What to do When Your PowerPoint Presentation is Too Long

You have spent several days putting together your PowerPoint presentation and fine-tuning every detail. You begin rehearsing your presentation only to find that you have run way over your time limit. You were given 15 minutes to present and your presentation is taking closer to 30 minutes to complete. How can you reduce your PowerPoint presentation without having to start the planning process completely over? While your first instinct might be to talk faster, there are better ways to handle this situation than cramming everything in and rushing. Here are a few things you can do if you need to cut down the length of your presentation. 

Revisit Your Main Goal

Go back and revisit the main goal of your presentation. What is it that you want to accomplish as a result of your PowerPoint? You should be able to answer this question in one sentence. If you cannot, you need to focus more closely on your main goal. The best way to define your main goal is to ask yourself: “ If my audience only takes away one thing from my presentation, what would I want that to be?”

Narrow Your Speaking Points

One of the most common reasons that PowerPoint presentations become too long is because the presenter includes way too much information. The fact is, people are likely only going to remember a few things from your presentation, so narrow down your speaking points. A good rule of thumb is to follow the Rule of 3 which states that we remember things in threes. This means that you should have no more than three speaking points for each of your main points. So, once you have decided on your main point, come up with no more than three supporting points. 

Break Your PowerPoint Into Sections

Similar to the Rule of 3, your presentation should be divided into three main sections: an intro, a body with no more than 3 points, and a conclusion.  Anything outside of these sections could probably be eliminated from the presentation altogether. Then, look at each section and tighten it where possible. Get rid of unnecessary pictures, videos, or animations. Keep your points brief, and limit your examples to just one. 

Practice

Once you have trimmed the fat from your PowerPoint, it’s time to begin practicing. You may not hit your target time with the first rehearsal, but you will gain a better sense of how much time you are spending. Plan to only spend a certain amount of time on each section and ask for feedback on which information or slides could be cut out. Then, keep practicing until you successfully deliver your presentation within the allotted time.