Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites and I highly recommend it.
In this blog post from 1 July 2010, Seth proposes a radical new approach to giving a presentation with slides. Go big! Really big! 200 slides big!
But why? Aren’t we constantly being told that we should limit the number of slides that we use? Therein lies the problem. When it comes to slide presentations, many people start by asking a very bad question: “How many slides should I use?” It’s a bad question because there is no formulaic answer. Maybe you need 50; maybe you need 5; maybe you need none at all.
The important thing, as Seth points out and as I have repeated often in this blog, is that you should not cram too much information into any single slide. What is the point of limiting your presentation to 12 slides if each one is crammed with 70 words of text? Your audience will still be numbed into submission.
Much better to have slides (whatever the number) that are limited to one idea each; that use few words or, better yet, use great images; that catch the audience’s imagination and keep them following along; that force you, as the speaker, to be creative, on your toes and much more interactive with your audience.
The 200 Slide Solution
by Seth Godin
The next time you find yourself on the hook for a 40 minute presentation (with slides!) consider, at least for a moment, a radical idea:
A slide every 12 seconds. 200 slides in all.
You’re used to putting three or four bullet points on a slide. That’s at least four distinct ideas, but more often, each of those ideas has three or four sub ideas to it. In other words, you’re cramming 32 ideas on a slide, and you’re sitting on that slide as you drone on and on. Perhaps you spice it up with some reveals or animated bullets, but it’s still 32 ideas going stale before our eyes.
What if you blew it up? Just one word on a slide. Or, perhaps just one image (no cheesy stock please). Maybe you write, “Cheaper” on one slide and, “More durable” on the next.
Slides create action. When did you decide that the appropriate amount of action was six or twelve times every half hour?
How would your pace change if you had 200 slides? How much better would the integration of slides and talk be?
I don’t honestly expect you to do your presentation with 200 slides. I’m hoping this exercise will help you realize that you might not need any slides. Or that 50 or 100 slides will pick up your energy and make your argument more coherent.
But please, don’t do that presentation you did last time.