3 Reasons Why Presentations with Fewer Words Perform Better

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The number one mistake I see people making while creating presentations is using too much text on slides. I’ve touched on this in other blogs, but it’s so important that I need to dedicate an entire blog to this topic. It really is key to having an engaging and effective presentation. In this blog, I’ll go over a few reasons why presentations with less text perform better and show a few examples.

How Much is Too Much?

According to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, “The 7 x 7 rule states that no slide should contain more than 7 lines of text and 7 words per line. The recommended word limit total varies widely from 6 to 40 words per slide.” Forty words aren’t that much, so what information should take priority, and what can you present verbally?

3 Reasons to Use Fewer Words

Let’s get into the details of why you should use fewer words on slides.

1. Memorability

When people are focused on reading a block of text, they don’t hear you. There’s only so much information they can retain when trying to read and listen at the same time. It’s almost impossible to listen, read, take notes, and process information all at once. It’s information overload at that point.

Have you heard someone say, “I’m a visual learner”? Maybe you’ve said it yourself at some point. In fact, 65% of people are visual learners and need to see information to retain it. That means your slides should have a strong visual component to be memorable. That mixed with an engaging presenter will prove to be the best kind of presentation.

2. Readability

Too much text on slides reduces readability. To counteract that, try using bullet points. Bullet points allow the audience to skim the information, then focus on what you’re saying to expand on the bullets. Avoid complete and full sentences to improve readability. The slides should be formatted similarly to an outline instead of an essay.

You should also have the text you do use big enough for the audience to easily read. Tiny text is a waste of space and time because your audience will have a hard time reading it and will probably skip over it. Make it easy for them to read. It’s recommended to use at least 18 point fonts.

3. Distraction

Think about your audience. Why did they come to your presentation? Not to read a slide – they can do that at home. They came to hear you speak on the topic and learn from you. Too many words on slides are just a distraction. Your audience ends up reading instead of listening, and they’ll end up not remembering much of what they read, or what you said. Keep that in mind when you create your slides. The most effective presentations use limited text to highlight key points, and use images, graphics, and animations to drive those points home and make them memorable.

Examples

I want to showcase an example of a presentation that had the perfect amount of words on slides, and another that had way too much. Think about which presentation you would rather sit through.


This slide deck is visually appealing, and the text is simple to understand. The use of various colors, fonts, and bolding help direct the audience where to look and what to focus on comprehending. Plus, the different layouts keep the audience engaged and ready to keep learning throughout the presentation.

This slide is boring to look at, and the information won’t sink in with the audience. Plus, if the slide is overloaded with text, the presenter will end up reading from the slide because they won’t have anything else to talk about. All the information is there! Save some information to share audibly with your audience. Your entire presentation doesn’t need to be on the slides.

I hope this blog helps you understand the importance of using very little text on your slides. Fewer words on slides improve memorability, readability, and keeps your audience’s attention on you during your presentation. Use as few words as possible, and present most of your information verbally, and you’ll be set to have an impactful presentation.