The 6 by 6 Rule for Presentations Explained

There are countless tips and tricks for giving great presentations but one that you might be familiar with is the 6×6 Rule. This presentation rules suggests that you should include no more than six words per line and no more than six bullet points per slide. The goal of this rule is to prevent your slides from becoming so dense and text heavy that people don’t want to look at it. While it might sound like a great idea in theory, it’s not as cut and dry as it seems. Here’s a little more information and what the 6×6 rule actually looks like and why it could use a little tweaking.

What does the 6×6 Rule look like?
If you were to present on a topic using the 6×6 rule, all of your slides would resemble something like this:
Have only one idea per slide
Have no more than six points
This slide has six bullet points
Each bullet point has six words
Is this a good presentation rule?
If you were bored reading these bullet points, then you understand why this technique is not always effective. Sure, there are times when we come across a simple saying that truly sticks in our minds such as “Today’s decisions are tomorrow’s realities.” However, it’s nearly impossible to fill all of your slides with such eloquent and profound statements. As a result, you end up cutting out valuable information just to stick to the 6×6 Rule.

Why it doesn’t always work.
Your main focus should be conveying your main points as clearly as possible. While it’s true that you don’t want to lose people in text heavy slides, there are times when it’s just not possible to explain your point in six words or less. When you try, you end up cutting and distorting the information to the point where your meaning gets lost. Furthermore, if you want to use a quote or tagline to further explain your message, you can’t exactly break up the quote and eliminate words. This is just one example of how the rule does not apply in all situations

How the 6×6 Rule can act as a guide.
This isn’t to suggest that the 6×6 Rule should never be implemented, it’s simply to explain why it shouldn’t be forced all the time. When you are designing your presentation, you have to find a way to convey your message without being too wordy. The 6×6 Rule is a great reminder to cut and edit when possible to keep things concise, but it doesn’t have to be the standard for every single slide. Remember that you should be the star of your presentation so don’t be overshadowed by poor slide design.