How Long Should Your Presentation Be?

How Long Should Your Presentation Be?

You have just been asked to put together a presentation for your colleagues.  You begin preparing your presentation material when you are suddenly faced with an important question: How long should your presentation be?  You want to make sure you include all of the pertinent information but you don’t want to bore your audience by rambling on for too long. The truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as a “perfect presentation length;†however, there are a few rules of thumb that can help guide you in selecting the ideal length for your presentation.  

Shorter is Better

It probably comes as no surprise that shorter, more focused presentations are more effective than lengthy ones.  Speakers have a tendency to delve too deep into the content, providing loads of unnecessary details. This is likely to confuse and overwhelm the audience.  When in doubt, try to keep your presentation as short and concise as possible.

It Depends on the Content

While many experts will claim 20 minutes is the perfect presentation length, that time constraint might be difficult depending on the content of the presentation. For example, a training presentation for new employees might require more than 20 minutes to fully cover the topic.  Likewise, it might not take 20 minutes to conduct a brief presentation of your team’s weekly goals. The length of your presentation should depend on how much time it will take to fully address the content with your audience.

The 10-20-30 Rule

If you have decided to create a Powerpoint for your presentation, it might be helpful to follow the 10-20-30 rule.  This rule states 10 slides is the optimal number for any presentation. 20 minutes is the longest amount of time you should speak.  30 point font is the smallest size that should be on your slides. Trimming your content can be a great way to deliver a more effective presentation.

The truth is there is no exact time that is ideal for every presentation. The amount of time it will take you to accomplish your goal is the amount of time you should spend presenting.  Do be mindful not to fill your presentation with too much fluff and too many extraneous details, as this can cause your presentation to drag on. You have to remember that your audience’s attention span is only so long so you want to be as concise as possible.