One Point Per Slide: Why It’s Important And How To Do It

Published on
October 10, 2016
PowerPoint presentations have come a long way from bullet points and ClipArt.

Presentations have evolved with not only the presenter and the audience, but also our preference to be moved and not sold to. This means our presentations not only look different today but are presented differently too.

One of the biggest presentation trends is having only one point per slide. Think about instruction manuals: each step is broken down to digestible pieces – one step per line – and listed in a clear chronological order. Presentations are following the same format in that only one point is displayed at a time and each slide builds on the next. What’s different from an instruction manual is that it has the added value of your verbal presentation where the context and details can be derived from.

So why is it important to stick to one point per slide?


People can only retain so much information

Your audience will only remember pieces of your presentation so it’s important that your slides present them with the key points you want them to walk away with. When you give too much information all at once, you dilute your message and cause each person to remember something different. Giving them the one key point you’d like to have stick in their mind helps them to absorb it and ensures everyone is taking away the same message.

People came to hear you

No one comes to a presentation to read – they came to hear you speak. Using your slides as a teleprompter naturally makes your audience read your content and takes the attention away from you. Providing one point on each slide allows them to quickly digest it, then turn their focus back on you so you can elaborate on the point. They should be able to comprehend each slide in 10 seconds or less and use it to support to your verbal presentation.

Too much information will bore your audience

A long winding list of bullets is a quick way to lose your audience. Being presented a block of text is uninspiring and once they’ve read it, they’ll zone out until the next slide because they already know what you’re about to say. Having just one point allows you to utilize different mediums to convey the message – like an impactful visual or motion graphic. This keeps your presentation interesting and stimulating.

Tips on creating a one point per slide presentation:

  • Think of your presentation like an essay: the words you present on the slide are your heading or subheading (usually one condensed sentence) and your supporting points are what you actually say. The slide should contain enough words to help the audience understand what you want to elaborate on.
  • Just because each slide has one idea doesn’t mean it stands in isolation. Your slides should flow from one to the next and have a clear transition. Before jumping in, create an outline for each of your points first so that it’s consistently structured and you don’t stray from the overall objective of your presentation. 
  • Avoid multiple bullet points on a slide because they signify a list. Instead, place each bullet onto its own slide and focus on one idea at a time. 
  • Mix up the type of points you use. Use shock or humor to grab your audience’s interest, or a visual with no text so your audience will need you to help them understand what they’re seeing. 
  • If you need to go into a lot of detail or have technical information to show, consider providing a handout that’s distributed after your presentation. This handout can also act as an overview to summarize the main ideas you’ve already covered. 
  • Using the one point per slide layout puts the focus on you as a presenter and tells the audience that you really know your topic. This allows you to speak naturally and convey the enthusiasm that’s difficult to show when you’re reading from your slides. 
  • Don’t worry about racking up your slide count – the quality and flow of the content is more important. 
  • Adding impactful imagery and illustration can really help to make your points shine. Can’t decide which points to leave and which points to keep? We’re here to help! Just reach out and we’ll be happy to assist.
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