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Simple rules for better presentations

April 20, 2011

Writing for ProfHacker, Mark Sample describes a rule he gives students when they are required to present slides in the Pecha Kucha format:

You must have at least one image per slide, you can use each exact image only once, and you should add no more than five words per slide.

(from Challenging the Presentation Paradigm with the 1/1/5 Rule).

The 1/1/5 rule aims to curb students’ tendencies to include too much text and then read it off the screen. While effective for speed presentations, this is a bit extreme under normal circumstances. Since before the days of PowerPoint, however, there has been a more generous maxim about limiting the amount of text projected on a screen:

The rule of six: no more than six lines of text per slide and six words per line

Whether or not you buy into either rule, there are three bits of advice upon which the experts agree:

    • Don’t put a lot of text on slides
    • Never read word-for-word from the screen
    • Use images
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