How to Effectively Manage Time During a Presentation? Short and Long Ones!

Slides are one of the best ways to engage an audience and nail a presentation. Nowadays, people use the most efficient and practical skills to make the slides clear, easy to understand. However, most people struggle to plan and manage time in their presentations.

In this article, I will share the recommended number of slides depending on the topic and time available for the presentation. What rules to follow for a successful presentation, and many other aspects. You will also learn about time management, how to prepare a brief and clear presentation and other skills that help you start and finish your presentation on time and still memorably deliver the message. 

How Many Slides are Suitable for Finishing a Presentation on Time?

The general rule says 1 to 2 slides per minute. However, it is critical to note that the presentation’s number of slides will vary according to the topic complexity, audience, available time, presentation structure and format, and goal. Good planning, rehearsal, and delivery skills are essential!

To be more specific, if you have too many slides in a presentation at the range of 3 to 15 minutes, you will end up confusing your audience or spending a significant part of your time explaining the slides. It does not mean you have to prepare a lot of information and squeeze it into few slides, and the best practice is to summarize your content to understand it easily.

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9 Elements of a Great Speech

From 25 minutes to 60 minutes, you can make a considerable number of slides. Some experts recommend 1 to 2 slides per minute, but as I said before, it will depend on the topic. Imagine that one of your slides contains graphs about some work you have been doing that can take more than 2 minutes, and it is important to explain it in detail to the audience.

It all starts with planning, researching, organizing all the collected data, prioritizing your key points, and making a structure. After this exercise, it will be easier to know how many slides you will have according to your given time.

To sum this up, there is no exact rule to set a number of slides for a given time frame, and it will vary according to the topic, your research, and your presentation skills. All you have to do is to balance the slides with your speech and time.

How many Slides for a 3-minute Presentation?

For a 3-minute presentation, the presenter should use four slides. Depending on how the slides are structured, 15 seconds to 2 minutes can be spent on each slide.

What really matters is not the amount of the slides but the quality. You can make three powerful slides and nail your presentation or make 5 with too much content and ending up having a boring presentation.

A good practice for a 3 minutes presentation is to keep it clean and straightforward. Keep in mind that slides are more engaging with visuals rather than texts. And on your speech, be as brief as possible, make a 15 to 20 seconds introduction, and do the same on the conclusion.

How many Slides for a 5-minute Presentation?

For a 5-minute presentation, five slides are enough. With good presenting skills, the result can be a killer presentation. In addition, the slides need to be simple and clean, with a structure that focuses on the key points.

Five minutes is enough time to deliver your message and engage your audience with content that is straight to the point. The only thing you need to do is keep in mind that every second of your time counts a lot for your presentation.

Another good practice to keep your audience engaged during the whole presentation is eye contact. Using this technique, and of course, making a powerful introduction, the audience won’t take their eyes off you.

How many Slides for a 10-minute Presentation? 

The Rule of Thumb for a 10-minute presentation is having 10-12 slides. Presenters with good skills use up to 30 seconds per slide to keep it nice and engaging. This time frame is suitable for elaborately introducing the subject or topic, diving deep into it, and highlighting the key points.

According to your topic, you can even make eight slides considering the fact that slides are only the guide of your presentation. That is why it is essential to make an excellent structure to organize your content on the slides properly; this will help you to put aside unnecessary data and focus only on what is essential for the audience.

How many Slides for a 20-minute Presentation?

According to Guy Kawasaki, a 20-minute presentation should have ten slides where each slide utilizes a 30 point font. Using this rule of 10/20/30, the speaker would spend up to 1 minute per slide, which gives time for even allowing 1 or 2 questions from the audience.

To structure a 20 minutes presentation using the rule of 10/20/30 from Guy Kawasaki, you have to use the first slide to introduce your subject, case study, or others, and from the second slide, start diving deep until you get to the conclusion.

In some cases, each slide has a different theme, and you will need to approach them differently. Having different themes per slide will require you to summarize each slide’s content in under a minute.

Although the Rule of Guy Kawasaki is suitable for a 20-minute presentation, you can set your own number of slides according to your subject and how much time you spend on a single slide as long as you deliver the message properly and engage your audience.

How many Slides for a 25-minute Presentation?

For a 25-minute presentation, the general rule is to use 20 to 30 slides. By spending up to two minutes per slide and focusing on the main subject, the speaker can keep the audience engaged for this period of time. 

Kawasaki believes that a human being can comprehend at least ten concepts in a meeting. In other words, you have to include in your topic or subject up to ten themes to be discussed. Any More than that can make your audience get confused or bored.

In this given time frame, you now have the opportunity to interact more with the audience, start with a quote, let them raise some clarification questions, and get more involved with them. 

How many Slides for a 30-minute Presentation?

Experts recommend 30 to 40 slides to make a memorable presentation. With 30 minutes, the presenter has more options compared to when the given time frame is short. Consider making the content as straightforward as possible. Also, make two paragraphs per slide at the most.

This technique will allow the audience to read all the information on the slide easily and quickly and move to the next one alongside you. If you add too much content on one slide, the audience will likely read something that you are not explaining yet or the opposite.

But you can make more than 40 slides and still have a memorable presentation in just 30 minutes, and I will explain to you how. Well, if you want your audience to understand clearly each content of your slide, make it one paragraph or one sentence, and use more visuals.

Using this method, you will spend 1-2 seconds per slide, and the audience will understand way better seeing the visual (which counts more than text). The explanation is gradual from the beginning to the end.

How many Slides for a 45-minute presentation?

As a general rule, for a 45-minute presentation, between 20 and 50 slides would grant a memorable presentation. Spending 1-2 minutes per slide, the speaker will have time to make a great introduction, interact more with the audience and have a questions and answers session.

A 45-minutes presentation is in the range of long times ones, and in these cases, you have to use the slides very carefully, making them proportional to your presentation time. Consider having a wristwatch to control your time.

A good practice is to use the slides only to guide your speech during the presentation, but you will need to master them. Rehearse the most important of each slide to make sure you spend the right time, or even less. This time management will give you an advantage because you will have enough time to make a great conclusion.

How many Slides for an hour Presentation?

Experts recommend 30 to 60 slides for a 60-minutes presentation. This period of time gives the speaker two main options: summarize the content in 30 slides or make a structure that allows one theme per slide. These two options also give more time to interact with the audience make a great introduction and conclusion.

Both of them are OK. But there are aspects that you have to consider; if you are preparing few slides, you will need to train how to summarize content to make sure you don’t spend too much time explaining all the points or having your audience stuck on reading your slide. 

And if you are planning to make one theme per slide to facilitate the understanding to the audience, make sure you spend 30 seconds at the most. But also consider having black screen slides to make pauses or small breaks and entertain or reengage your audience.

How many Slides for a 90-minute Presentation?

A 90-minutes presentation should have not more than 60 slides. In this situation, the speaker will need to know how to keep time on presentations. Experts recommend up to 2 minutes per slide, but depending on how the presentation is flowing, spending more than 2 minutes per slide is possible.

As a speaker, you will also need skills to engage your audience during a presentation and set time for questions and answers. And most importantly, after 10-15 slides, make a break and double-check if the audience completely understands your presentation.

If you fail to make these pauses to double-check if the audience is on the same page with you, you will be running a risk of going back from almost the end of the slides to the first ones to explain something that the audience did not get very well.

How many Slides for a two-hour presentation?

A two-hour presentation would need 60-80 slides to deliver the message memorably. Some experts recommend one theme per slide to make it clear and easily understandable. Keep in mind that a presentation this long requires careful planning and a very well-organized structure.

Generally, a presentation with more than one hour of duration is for professional speakers who can deal with time management. The best way to not have your audience boring is to use the method of one idea per slide; it will make them easily understand each part of your content.

How many Slides for 2+ hours presentations?

Presentations with more than two hours should have not more than 80 slides. Long presentations with over 2 hours, the speaker can organize the information in order to spend 2-3 minutes per slide. 

120+ minutes is considered an extended time frame; a good practice is to keep the slides brief and clean to ensure your audience won’t get exhausted.

What are the skills needed to Deliver Long Presentations or Speeches?

For long presentations, several skills are required to ensure successful delivery, such as:  

  • Time management;
  • Engaging the audience
  • Solid posture
  • Good eye contact
  • Controlling your voice, and more. 

All these skills will keep your audience engaged and entertained, and make sure you reserve 15-20 minutes for questions and answers after a long presentation or speech.

How to keep time in your presentation?

Keeping time in your presentation is a practice that makes you a great professional or speaker. But it does not only means play around with the slides. There are more aspects that you need to consider doing and are significant for the success of your presentation.

First of all, to have complete control of your time on stage, you have to write the schedule of time you will spend on each part of your presentation, something like setting time for your opening, how long time you will spend on the introduction, how long time you reserve for questions and answers, etc.

Make sure you start your presentation on time. If you fail this step, then everything that comes ahead may also delay and end the presentation after the scheduled time. You also need to plan how long your speech will take and have a clock to control it.

Planning is also crucial to keep time on your presentation. The main thing in the plan to deliver your message is the structure of your content. A good structure will allow you to know how much time you will spend on each point.

I have an excellent article with a guide for outlining your speech, which should help you nail this part of the process. A good speech outline is key in managing presentation time.

And last but not least, you need to rehearse before you go on stage. It will allow you to know how much time you need for the presentation and practice to see if you need to remove or add something to your presentation to make it perfect.

Why do people usually fail to finish a presentation within the stipulated time?

Generally, people fail to finish a presentation on time because they do not make a good plan, underestimate rehearsing, and fail at an impromptu delivery attempt at the last minute. What commonly happens is that people make too many slides and fail to go from one to another on time. The rule of thumb says that 1-2 minutes per slide is enough using standards.

Another session that makes speakers fail to finish the presentation in time is the question and answers. This mistake happens when the speaker does not practice enough or predict questions that may come and end up thinking about the answer when the question is raised.

Not setting time for each session of your presentation also makes you not finish on time. This mistake will cause you to take longer at one point or another, especially if you don’t have a clock to keep track of the time.

How to keep your Presentation Brief and Clear

To keep a presentation brief and clear, organize your content to be only one theme per slide. To be more specific, consider having one paragraph or idea per slide, one that is concise, straightforward, and should also include minimalist visuals. 

The design is also essential to help you get a clean design. Choose a layout that comfortably suits your text and image. Another detail is the color, which has to be neutral to help the reader focus on the content only. 

A Brief and clear presentation allows the audience to understand the topic easily and faster. To make it possible, you have to avoid anything that can distract the audience or make it harder for them to read. A Brief and clean presentation also helps to reduce the time spent on screen. 

For More Tips on Designing and Nailing a Presentation, open the recommended articles below.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the number of slides a presentation should have for a given time depends on who is presenting and the topic or subject. And also, it varies according to the methods that you use to deliver your message. As long as it reaches the audience properly and on time, the number of slides should be the least of your concerns. 

But you can follow the standards that some experts recommend for a presentation from 3 minutes to 120+ minutes. For example, Guy Kawasaki recommends the rule of 10/20/30 for a 20 minutes presentation. This rule of thumb allows you to have ten slides to be presented in 20 minutes, and the font should be 30 points. 

This example shows that you can follow the standards and still have a successful presentation. the main thing you have to do, is a good planning, a good structure, and make your content brief and clear, that will help them understand and enjoy your presentation 

Speakers should focus more on Planning, structuring, and time management to have a memorable presentation. Some speakers prefer to break the content into many pieces to facilitate understanding during the presentation, and others make a structure where the content is summarized on each slide. 

References and Further Reading

How to Create a Killer 5-Minute Presentation (hubspot.com)

How Many Slides For A Whatever-Minute Presentation? (slidecow.com)

https://www.soappresentations.com/how-many-slides-should-be-used-for-a-60-minute-presentation/

The ideal number of slides for an hour-long presentation, and other thoughts on preparing slides | I’d Rather Be Writing Blog (idratherbewriting.com)

Presentation Slide Counts (duarte.com)

3 Ways to Choose the Right Number of Slides for a Powerpoint Presentation (wikihow.com)

Brevity, Clarity and Wit: 10 Commandments for a 10-Minute Talk | Cath Lab Digest | HMP Global (hmpgloballearningnetwork.com)

How Many Slides to Use For a 5, 10, 15+ Minute Presentation (tutsplus.com)

The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint – Guy Kawasaki

How Many Slides to Use in a Presentation? 5 Tips | Design Shack

Emidio Amadebai

An avid seeker of knowledge, and passionate about sharing the lessons he picks up in life. Emidio is passionate about public speaking, teaching, and helping others develop critical soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and other interpersonal skills which are in high demand in today's rapidly evolving market.

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