Why Less is More for Your PowerPoint Presentation

You’ve probably heard the saying “Less is more” before, but maybe you didn’t know where it came from or what it really means. Well, it fits perfectly when we talk about PowerPoint presentations. Many presenters tend to believe in the opposite idea – that “more is more”

  • and they end up cramming their slides with too much stuff, like too many words and pictures. This often leads to bad presentations, as summed up by author and presentation expert Seth Godin, who once said, “Almost every PowerPoint sucks rotten eggs.”

A survey asked people what they hated most about PowerPoint presentations, and here’s what they said:

  • 74% didn’t like presenters who just read from their
  • 52% complained about slides filled with full sentences instead of bullet
  • 48% found the text too small to

The main problem is that presenters try to put too much information on their slides. There seem to be two types of people who do this: those who do it on purpose and those who do it by accident.

  1. Intentional Over-Stuffers: Some people intentionally stuff their slides because they’re nervous about speaking in front of a crowd. For many folks, public speaking is terrifying. I’ve seen this firsthand in my “Be A Better Business Speaker” course. When I ask someone to stand up and talk about their job, they often freeze with fear. If everything they need to say is on the slides, they don’t have to worry as much. They figure the audience can just read everything. But this makes things boring for the audience. And it makes you wonder, if all the information is on the slides, why not just hand them out instead?
  2. Unintentional Over-Stuffers: Most of the time, slides are crammed by accident. These presenters don’t understand that their job is to be the main source of information, not the slides. Slides should only have the key points, never full sentences. Short bullet points help emphasise what the presenter is saying and guide both the presenter and the audience through the

There’s a rule of thumb called the 6 X 6 rule: no more than six bullet points on a slide, and no more than six words per bullet point. That might be too strict, but it gives you an idea of how much text is enough.

And let’s talk about font size. Some presenters assume everyone in the audience has perfect eyesight. But when the text gets too small, it becomes impossible to read. Anything below 14 points is like reading an eye chart.

As for pictures and graphs, less is more. One or two carefully chosen visuals are better than a cluttered mess. If you’ve ever had to tell your audience, “I know you can’t see this…”, then you’re overdoing it with your slides.

Now, some people argue, “But they need to see this!” Well, even if that’s true, putting it on a slide doesn’t guarantee they’ll see it, especially if it’s too small. You have two solutions:

  1. Use more slides: If it’s crucial, spread the information across multiple slides. The number of slides doesn’t matter as much as the readability of each one.
  2. Handouts: Instead of squeezing everything onto slides, create a separate document for detailed information. Your slides should focus on key

Investing time in making better slides pays off. It’s easy to make slides with lots of stuff, but refining them takes effort. Remember what Mark Twain said, “I am sorry for the long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

So, if you want to effectively communicate with your audience, take the time to simplify your slides. And just in case you were wondering, “Less is more” originally comes from an 1855 poem, but it’s often linked to architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his minimalist designs.