Study: Your Power Point Presentation Probably Too Wordy

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Sep 21, 2016

A recent study has found that Power Point presentations generally have too many words, something that helps neither the presenter nor their audience, as both can lead people to disengage with the talk itself, according to Time. The study, published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, looked at 97 academic scholars and found that they "used substantially more text than is advised." 

(while the paper's abstract does not indicate how much text is actually advised, Columbia University recommends no more than six lines of text per slide, and no more than seven words per line)

The study attributed this mainly to anxiety, as presenters would use their slides as speaking notes, meaning that they were more for the benefit of the speaker than their audience, though big blocks of text actually serve neither well. On the speaker side, the study said that they tend to make the presentation stilted and leaden, as they're engaging with the slide and not the audience. On the audience side of things, the study said that it's tough to listen and read at the same time, and so when trying to read a slide with lots of text, people tend to stop paying attention to what the speaker is actually saying. 

"Presenters should be trained to overcome their speaking anxiety by means other than the abundant use of words on their slides," said the abstract. 

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