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How many slides in a sales deck/presentation [Answered]

Last week, I had a virtual meeting with Shreyas, the founder of a rapidly growing analytics company that's been making waves in the tech world. Background: Shreyas isn't just any client; for the past three years, we've been developing all of their presentations. From investor pitches to sales decks, and even designing an in-house template system, we've been with him every step of the way.

"Before we begin this project, I have a question. How many slides do you think we should include into this sales deck? I don't want to overwhelm my audience, but I also need to convey the full potential of our company." he said.

Shreyas' dilemma is one that many entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers grapple with. The question of "how many slides in a sales deck/sales presentation" is a common one. It's a question that doesn't have a one-size-fits-all answer, but understanding the factors that influence this decision can make the process much less daunting. So, let's dive in and demystify this topic for everyone else wrestling with this issue.

The Myth of the Perfect Slide Count

One of the most pervasive myths in the world of sales presentations is that there's a magic number of slides that guarantees success. Some say it's the 10-20-30 rule (10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font), others swear by the 7x7 rule (no more than 7 lines per slide, no more than 7 words per line). While these guidelines can be helpful, they shouldn't be treated as hard and fast rules.

The truth is, "how many slides should be included in a sales presentation" depends on various factors. It's not about hitting an arbitrary number; it's about effectively communicating your message to your audience. A deck that perfectly captures your value proposition in 15 slides is better than one that drags on for 30 slides without saying much.

Factors Influencing the Number of Slides

1. Audience and Context

Who are you presenting to, and what's the setting? A pitch to venture capitalists might require more detail (and thus more slides) than a quick product demo to a potential customer. Similarly, a webinar presentation might allow for more slides than an in-person meeting where you're vying for attention.

2. Complexity of Your Offering

The nature of your product or service plays a significant role in determining how many slides you'll need. A simple app might be explained in 10 slides, while a comprehensive enterprise software solution could require 25 or more to cover all its features and benefits adequately.

3. Time Allocated

This one's straightforward: the more time you have, the more slides you can feasibly present. But remember, just because you have an hour doesn't mean you should fill it with 60 slides. Quality trumps quantity every time.

4. Level of Interaction

Are you giving a monologue, or is it a dialogue? Interactive presentations with lots of questions and discussion might need fewer slides because the conversation will fill some of the time. In contrast, a webinar with limited interaction might use more slides to keep the audience engaged.

5. Visual vs. Text Content

Slides heavy with text will take longer to read and comprehend, meaning you might need fewer of them. On the other hand, if your slides are primarily visual (think graphs, images, or infographics), you might breeze through more of them in the same amount of time.

How many slides should a sales deck include [Examples]

To illustrate these points, let's look at some examples:

1. The Startup Pitch: Sarah from DataInsights is pitching to VCs. She has 30 minutes and needs to cover her product, market, team, financials, and growth strategy. A deck of 15-20 slides could work well here. She might have 2-3 slides on the problem she's solving, 3-4 on her solution, 2-3 on market size and competition, 2 on her team, 3-4 on financials and projections, and 1-2 on next steps.

2. The SaaS Demo: Consider a SaaS company demoing their project management tool in a 15-minute call. They might use just 8-10 slides: 1 for introduction, 1-2 for pain points, 3-4 for key features (with screenshots), 1 for pricing, and 1 for a call-to-action.

3. The Conference Keynote: A thought leader giving a 45-minute keynote on the future of AI might use 30-40 slides. Many of these could be visuals or single words to emphasize points, allowing the speaker to maintain audience engagement over the longer duration.

4. The Sales Training: An internal sales training on a new product line might have 50+ slides over a 2-hour session. Here, depth is key, and the familiar audience can handle more information.

Crafting Your Deck: Quality Over Quantity

Now that we've established that the number of slides can vary, let's focus on making each slide count:

1. One Idea Per Slide: Don't cram multiple concepts into one slide. It's better to have an extra slide than to confuse your audience.

2. The 3-Second Rule: Aim for slides that convey their main point in 3 seconds. This might mean using a powerful image, a short phrase, or a single statistic.

3. Ditch the Text: Slides are visual aids, not scripts. Keep text minimal. You're the storyteller, not your PowerPoint.

4. Embrace White Space: Don't fear empty space on your slides. It gives the eyes a rest and draws attention to what matters.

5. Practice, Time, Revise: Run through your deck multiple times. If you're consistently rushing or have too much dead time, adjust your slide count.

Remember, your deck isn't set in stone. Have a few extra slides in your "appendix" for common questions or objections. You might not use them every time, but they'll be there if needed.

So, to all the Shreyas out there fretting over slide counts, take a breath. Focus on crafting a compelling narrative. Use as many slides as you need to tell that story effectively, no more and no less. Your success won't be measured by your slide count, but by the impact you make. In the end, Shreyas decided on an 18-slide sales deck for his pitch. It went very well so I'm told.

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If, like Shreyas, you want to collaborate with us to develop your presentations, visit the contact section of our website. From there, you can also schedule a consultation call with our team. We look forward to working with you!


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