How many PowerPoint slides should you have for a job interview presentation?

You’ve recently been laid off from your corporate job. Your job search has already landed you an interview for a new position that includes a short presentation to demonstrate your communication ability.

How many slides should you prepare?

You may have heard about a certain number of slides per minute. I suggest you ignore those “rules” because there are no hard and fast rules. Only guidelines that will help you create an effective presentation for that interview. Here are three to consider.

Know how much time you have for the presentation

If the recruiter or hiring manager didn’t give you a length of time for the presentation, ask them. You have to show that you can work within the parameters of any assignment and you need to know what those boundaries are. Then plan to present for 80-85% of that time only. You want to leave 15-20% of the time for questions or discussion.

It’s the number of visual impressions that counts

The number of slides is irrelevant. What is important is the number of visual impressions. Watch any news program. They don’t spend more than ten seconds on any shot. You don’t want to go that fast but think about the number of different visual impressions you will use.

One slide may have three or four visual impressions because each time you build content on the slide it is a new impression. You may show a graph, then a callout to focus on a big drop in the data, then add some text explaining what you did to address the drop, and a final callout to focus on the improvement after your actions. Four impressions on one slide.

If you decide you want to average two impressions per minute, you may have up to 16 impressions for the eight minutes you will present during the ten minutes of time allotted in the interview for your presentation. It doesn’t matter if each impression is a slide or a build on a slide, they all count the same.

Rehearsing is the only way to know your timing

There is no way to really know how long your presentation is until you rehearse. Delivering the entire presentation out loud from start to finish. Preferably on a test Teams call so you add in the time to share the screen and time to stop sharing to address questions (this article shows you how to see what the recruiter will see by connecting to a Teams call twice from your computer). Rehearse multiple times because you will get better each time. Five times minimum is what I suggest. Taking too long? Cut some of the details or content. Too short? Add some relevant details or content. The number of slides you have tells you nothing about how long the presentation will be. Only rehearsing out loud will tell you.

By Dave Paradi

Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don't overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 4.8 million times and liked over 17,000 times on YouTube.