Timing in PowerPoint presentations

One of the most common question that our users ask us about timing in PowerPoint is what is the perfect timing for PowerPoint slides and how long should a presentation be depending on the number of slides? Well, there is no a rule of thumb here since every new presentation is different.

However, there are some experts that recommend some guidelines and rules to perform well the presentations and make effective PowerPoint presentations on time.

The length of the presentation will depend of course about the number of slides, but also in many other factors. Here we will review different topics about the length of PowerPoint files and timing.

5 minute PowerPoint presentation

In 5 minute presentations you can say a lot. Let’s imagine this question: Is it possible to fill so much information into a 5-minute-presentation? Oliver Adria answered this for us.

Definitely! I have seen many great presentations in 10 minutes or less. And I think the first step to realizing that this is very possible is that we need to let go of the notion that presentations are boring PowerPoint-based 60 minute lectures held in stuffy office rooms. Presentations don’t need to be like that!

In his post written in Rethink Presentations, we can understand that 5 minute presentations are possible. In fact, we all have seen presentations made in only 5 minutes. Most elevator pitches usually are so fast that can be wrapped in 5 minute conversation and presentation. During this time, you may be tempted to slow down the elevator, but well, if you already have planned the presentation in advance, and design the presentation in a way that every slide has sense and a purpose to be present, then it is about timing. In this case, of course, the number of slides will be limited to a few slides only, considering that you’d need at least 30 seconds to 1:30 minutes to complete every slide.

10 minute presentations

Again, it can be challenging to make presentations for 10 minutes, but consider that some pitches and presentations to business investors where some ideas should be shared quickly and effectively, then this can be possible. And you can say a lot in a 10 minute timeframe, but of course, you’d need to practice and plan the presentation in advance in order to make it possible. Your presentation skills can also be so good that you won’t need to practice, but even in this case it is recommended that you rehearse the presentation timing. This will help to perform a great presentation in 10 minutes, where you need to make a simple intro, present the background then the idea and finish it with a powerful conclusion. It is important too to know if there is some time for questions or if you need to wrap everything inside 10 minutes. How many slides will you put in 10 minute presentation? Well, that will depend on many factors, of course since every presentation is unique.

15 or 20 minute presentation

For 15 or 20 minute presentations, this kind of presentations can be really quick, despite that making the presentation can take an entire day or many days, depending on the complexity and audience. But 15 minutes is a good timing for presentations that should be held quickly. Especially if you are dealing with business angels, investors, venture capital firms or other firms or even clients that was too difficult to get a meeting on the schedule. By wrapping a presentation in up to 15 minutes you can specify the most important or key concepts and prepare a meeting that will highlight the most important concepts to present. Your audience will be happy if you can wrap the presentation in 15 minute.

There are some rules applied for short presentations in time, for example the 10/20/30 rule for PowerPoint presentations, where Guy Kawasaki already pointed about this. 10 slides in 20 minutes and using at least font size 30 in the slide design. There is lot of controversy about this rule, and despite it has some good benefits, there are some things to consider, as Andrew Dlugan dlugan pointed in his article. In this article we can see that there are good points about what is loved from 10/20/30, but also some opposing views:

  • Every presentation is unique
  • There is no perfect number of slides
  • There is no perfect duration to speak

30 minute presentation

This kind of presentations are used widely for business presentations or even in the school. For businesses, a 30 minutes presentation is not so much to get the audience so much bored, and it is not too short to stop presenting important topics or concepts. By the way, this kind of presentations are also used in the school so many different teams and students can make different presentations in the same day. By giving 10 or 15 minutes more for questions, you can wrap a single team presentation in 45 minute presentation slot.

60 minute presentation

In 60 minute presentation there is so much that you can present. 60 minutes can be good for a lecturer in the classroom but sometimes too much for a daily or weekly meeting. Of course, that depends on the importance of the meeting and if it was planned in advance properly or not. For unplanned meetings with no reason, spending 60 minutes x number of participants can be too much time spent or wasted. If you are planning a 60 minute presentation then you can structure it properly to keep the audience stand until you complete it.

120 minute presentation

A presentation running more than an hour can be really boring if you did not take precautions for good design in the same.

Longer presentations, meetings, conferences

Of course there are also longer presentations, just think about one day or multiple days conferences where lot of PowerPoint are held in an auditorium. In this case, if you are in charge to organize these presentations, it is important to get expert advice. Having breaks is a must in this case, since will let your audience to take a rest. They can also use the break to do some networking and process what they have learnt. Lengthy presentation can be bored if are not designed so well, but here maybe we should ask the experts, and definitely TED is a good starting point.