Recently, SlideShare released its Zeitgeist 2010 report of the most popular presentations posted to its site. Many of the findings have applications to not only sharing your presentations online but how you create slides for your live presentations, as well. Here are my interpretations of their findings.
Make your presentation robust
The average number of slides of the most popular presentations was 63. Which is in sharp contrast to the average number of slides in general, which was 19. Conventional wisdom is to keep your use of visual aids few and significant, but this statistic flies in that face of that. What does this say?
I believe it says that people want robust, information-packed presentations. Those with fewer slides didn’t provide enough information so they weren’t shared and thus didn’t become as popular as those that were.
This doesn’t mean when you are giving a live presentation that you want a lot of slides … it just confirms the need for your presentation to be informative. But it does say that if you will be sharing your slides online via a service like SlideShare or even a webinar, more might actually be more.
Be pithy on your visual aids
The more popular presentations used about 24 words per slide. They were short and to the point. This is something I know I’ve been preaching for a long time. Your visual aids need to be simple and easy to consume in just a short glance. Too many slide users pack each slide with too much information. It is better to have more slides with fewer words than fewer slides with more.
Make your visual aids easy to read
The majority of popular presentations used a sans serif font such as Helvetica, Arial or Gill Sans. While serif fonts, such as Times is easier to read in print, sans serif fonts are easier to read when back lit such as online on on a slide. Stats from SlideShare’s Zeitgeist 2010 report seem to support this general rule.