How Much Content is Too Much in Your Presentation?

One of the fundamental goals of any presentation is to convey information to your audience. Whether you’re looking to inspire action or educate audience members on a specific topic, you need solid information to create a valuable presentation.  You need to be able to objectively consider how much content is too much in your presentation.

With that in mind, there’s a fine line between an illuminating presentation and information overload. The human brain can only take in so much information at once. By packing too much content into your presentation, a large portion of it won’t be processed by your audience. 

So, how much content is too much in your presentation? Here, we’ve set out to answer the common question and provide strategies for balancing your presentation’s content. With these tips in mind, you’ll have the tools to create a compelling, memorable presentation for your audience. 

Content Overload and Audience Retention

Being presentation fanatics ourselves, we get the urge to cram as much info as you can onto those slides. More is more, no?

Not quite.

In many ways, simplicity is the key to audience retention. When a huge amount of information is included in a presentation, it compromises the impression left on your audience. Your statements will get jumbled and, ultimately, forgotten. 

To capture your audience’s attention like you’re using the Force, edit your presentation down to the essentials. If nothing else, what do you want your audience to learn? The answer to that question should guide the content throughout your presentation.

Too Much Text Will Distract Your Audience

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When you’re presented with text on a slide, the impulse to read that text is strong. So, when your presentation is packed with text, your audience will immediately start trying to read it. This diverts their attention from your delivery of the presentation, ultimately compromising their ability to retain the information. 

With too much written content in your presentation, your audience won’t be listening to you. We know that you have valuable things to say - make sure that your audience hears them by editing out unnecessary written content on your slides. When your audience can scan through the text quickly, they’ll move their eyes from the slide and start absorbing your presentation delivery. 

Try Out The 7 by 7 Rule.

A great rule of thumb, called the 7 by 7 rule, recommends that you have a maximum of 7 lines on any one slide. Those lines should ideally have a maximum of 7 words each. While it’s A-okay to divert from this rule occasionally, it serves as an excellent benchmark from which to judge the amount of content in your presentation. 

Emphasize Important Statistics.

To give a statistic more impact, make it the only text on a slide. An isolated sentence is inherently more powerful than a list or paragraph, as there’s nothing else on the slide to distract from it. 

Three Points Per Presentation

The “rule of three” is a standard strategy in the art of presentations. This rule suggests that you present three (or less) key points to your audience in a presentation. The goal with this rule is that your audience walks away having absorbed all of your main points. When you keep the main points to a minimum, each point will have more of an impact. 

What About Longer Presentations?

The three-point rule works well for presentations that are 15 to 30 minutes in length. If your presentation is longer, say, 45 minutes to an hour, you can consider adding a few more main points to your outline. While you certainly don’t have to add main points for longer presentations, your audience will have the time to absorb more information. So, if you have more to say, you can do so without swamping your audience.

Text vs. Graphics: Balancing Your Presentation Content

Rest assured - we love reading as much as anyone. But, replacing some of the text on your slides with graphics and images can improve the success of your presentation. 

Using images in place of text will maximize the impact of your spoken presentation. In contrast to text, which can distract your audience, images compliment your delivery of the presentation. Your audience members will be able to absorb your words while taking in the value of the image. 

Images and graphics add context and visual interest to any presentation. Visual aids are especially useful when you’re trying to portray a complex idea or concept. Your audience will gain a different perspective through an image than they will from spoken words or text. So, a variety of content in your presentation will provide your audience with a deeper, more complete understanding of your key points. 

For a presentation that leaves your audience reeling, deliver content in a concise, focused manner. It’s inevitable that audience members won’t retain every single point that you make. But, you can ensure that your crucial points have a powerful impact through careful editing and the inclusion of multiple content mediums.

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