The 6 by 6 Rule in PowerPoint Presentation Design

Last updated on June 6th, 2024

The 6x6 Rule in Presentation Design

A common challenge faced by many presenters is effectively conveying their ideas while keeping their audience engaged. The 6×6 rule for presentations, a time-honored guideline in the world of presentation design, is a powerful tool that can significantly enhance a presenter’s ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and efficiently. This 6×6 rule is great for presenters and adaptable for various platforms, including PowerPoint and Google Slides.

What is the 6×6 Rule?

The 6×6 rule for presentations stipulates that each slide should contain no more than six bullet points, and each bullet point should not exceed six words. The rule aims to prevent information overload, ensuring that the audience can absorb and comprehend the presented information. It promotes clarity, conciseness, and focus, thus, making your presentation more impactful.

Why Use the 6×6 Rule for Presentations?

When a slide contains too much text, it forces the audience to split their attention between reading the slide and listening to the presenter. This split attention can lead to reduced comprehension and retention. By limiting the number of bullet points and words on each slide, the 6×6 rule ensures the audience can quickly glance at the slide, understand the key point, and refocus their attention on the speaker.

How to Use the 6×6 Rule?

Applying the 6×6 rule in PowerPoint or Google Slides is fairly straightforward:

1. Limit Bullet Points: Each slide should contain a maximum of six bullet points. This forces you to distill your information down to the most critical points.

2. Constrict Word Count: Each bullet point should be limited to six words. This encourages you to be concise and to the point.

3. Break Down Complex Ideas: If a concept cannot be adequately explained within these constraints, consider breaking it down across multiple slides.

4. Use Visuals: The 6×6 rule for presentations is not against using visuals. Visuals like diagrams, infographics, charts, pictures or even videos can support your bullet points and convey complex ideas in your presentation effectively so you can focus on the key message.

Sample Use Cases and Applications

The beauty of the 6×6 rule for presentations lies in its adaptability. Here are a few ways it can be applied:

1. Business Presentations: The 6×6 PowerPoint rule for presentations can help ensure your key points are clear and easy to understand. For example, when presenting a quarterly report, instead of overwhelming your audience with all the numbers and details, you can use six slides each highlighting a different aspect: revenue, costs, net income, customer growth, key challenges, and future outlook. Each slide can have six bullet points that briefly discuss the key elements of each aspect.

2. Academic Lectures: For professors and educators, the 6×6 rule can help keep students engaged and improve knowledge retention. For instance, when teaching a complex scientific concept, break it down into smaller, easily digestible chunks spread across multiple slides.

3. Sales Pitches: In sales pitches or elevator pitches, time is of the essence, and grabbing attention is crucial. With the 6×6 rule, you can quickly introduce your product, its benefits, how it works, customer testimonials, pricing, and the call to action in a way that is easy for potential clients to grasp.

4. Training Materials: If you’re creating training presentation or training materials, the 6×6 rule can ensure the content is clear and understandable. For example, if you’re training employees on a new software, each slide can cover a different feature, with six key points detailing how to use it.

6 Reasons Why the 6×6 Rule still works in the era of AI

1. Enhances Focus: By limiting each slide to six bullet points, the 6×6 rule ensures that your audience’s attention is focused on your most critical points. It eliminates irrelevant or superfluous information that can distract from the main message.

2. Facilitates Comprehension: Using fewer words in each bullet point makes it easier for the audience to comprehend the content. This rule pushes presenters to use clear and concise language, which aids understanding.

3. Increases Retention: Simplicity is key when it comes to memory. With only six key points and a few words to remember per slide, the audience is more likely to retain the information long after the presentation.

4. Reduces Cognitive Load: The human brain can only process a limited amount of information at once. The 6×6 rule respects this limit, preventing cognitive overload and making it easier for your audience to process and remember the information you’re presenting.

5. Encourages Visual Engagement: By restricting the amount of text on each slide, the 6×6 rule naturally encourages the use of visuals. Since visuals are processed faster by the brain, this can lead to better understanding and engagement.

6. Promotes Conversational Tone: By limiting word count, the 6×6 rule encourages presenters to speak more conversationally, thereby building a better connection with the audience. Instead of reading word-for-word from the slide, presenters can elaborate and explain points more naturally, making the presentation more engaging and dynamic.

Other Valuable Presentation Design Rules

Beyond the 6×6 rule, there are several other guidelines that can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your presentations. Here are five other rules you can follow:

1. The 1-6-6 Rule: This 1-6-6 rule is a variation of the 6×6 rule and suggests that each slide should have one main idea, six bullet points, and six words per bullet point. This helps to ensure that each slide has a clear focus and doesn’t attempt to convey too many ideas at once.

2. The Rule of Thirds: Borrowed from photography, the rule of thirds advises that slide components should be placed along imaginary lines that divide the slide into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Placing key elements at the intersections of these lines can make your slides more balanced and visually appealing.

3. The 10/20/30 Rule: Introduced by Guy Kawasaki, this rule suggests that a presentation should have no more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes, and use a font size of no less than 30 points. This helps to maintain audience engagement and ensures your message is conveyed succinctly. Learn more about the 10/20/30 rule here.

4. The 7×7 Rule: Similar to the 6×6 rule, the 7×7 rule (a.k.a. 777 rule, or 7 by 7 rule) recommends no more than seven lines per slide and seven words per line. This rule allows for slightly more content per slide but still emphasizes simplicity and clarity.

5. The 2/4/8 Rule: This rule stipulates that a slide should remain on the screen for at least 2 minutes but no more than 4, and the overall presentation shouldn’t exceed 8 main topics. This allows your audience ample time to absorb each slide’s content without letting the presentation drag on too long.

6. The 5/5/5 Rule: According to the 5/5/5 rule, a presentation should have no more than five words per line of text, five lines of text per slide, and five text-heavy slides in a row.

7. The B Rule: The B rule is a useful tool for maintaining audience engagement. By pressing ‘B’ on your keyboard during a presentation, the screen will go black, and all eyes will focus on you. This gives you a moment to engage with your audience directly.

8. The 20/20 Rule: According to this rule, a presenter should aim to create 20 slides, each displayed for exactly 20 seconds. This format, also known as Pecha Kucha, keeps presentations concise and fast-paced.

9. The Lessig Method: Named after its creator, Lawrence Lessig, this rule proposes the use of many slides with very little information, typically a single word or image. The slides change quickly as the presenter speaks, creating a dynamic, visually stimulating experience.

5. The One Idea Rule: This rule advises that each slide should communicate just one idea. Cluttering a slide with multiple ideas can confuse the audience and obscure your message.

Each of these rules for presentations, like the 6×6 rule, are guidelines and should be adapted based on your specific presentation context and audience. The ultimate goal of any presentation should be to effectively communicate your ideas in an engaging and memorable way.


The 6×6 rule is a powerful guideline that can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your presentations, regardless of whether you’re using PowerPoint or Google Slides. By enforcing clarity, conciseness, and focus, this rule can transform your presentation slides from mere informational surfaces to captivating storytelling tools. Furthermore, its simplicity and adaptability make it suitable for a wide range of contexts, from business meetings and academic lectures to sales pitches and training sessions. While there are other rules and guidelines that can also help, the 6×6 rule provides an excellent foundation for anyone looking to create impactful presentations that engage the audience, facilitate comprehension, and boost information retention. So, the next time you’re preparing a presentation, give the 6×6 rule a try and experience the difference it can make.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *