Wednesday, 18 April 2012

How many topics during a Presentation

How many topics during a Presentation

During any presentation we always go with an agenda. Do we ever think how many topics we should cover and how to structure them?

Presentation is a medium to convey our message to the audience.  Audience is always interested to know what they are going to learn out of it rather than knowing who you are. People are selfish and they are there for a reason ‘learning’. It is must to let your audience know what you are going to talk about so that people’s expectation is clear. They will not occupy there minds throughout the session in order to understand what you are going to talk about.

Now Lets jump into how many topics? I would like to start with one example. Sheena Iyengar writes about psychology of choices, she did a research about whether people should be given choices if yes then how many. She did an experiment in a retail store and on weekend she put 24 jams on display. There came a lot of people but only a few bought jams. Next weekend she put only 6 jams on display, then the traffic of people who stopped to look at jams was less but more people bought jams. After analyzing this it was found that when there were 24 Jams -- 60 % people stopped by but only 3 % Bought, where as when there was only 6 Jams on display -- 40% people stopped by and 30% bought. 

The reason behind this is quite interesting, when people have more choices they get confused and a confused mind never buys anything. So a theory of 3 * 3 rules came into picture. People must be given 3-4 main choices and then in each category you can further have 3-4 choices. Same goes with presentation and during a presentation we should keep 3-4 main topics to discuss and then in each topic we can again have 3-4 bullet points.

Now let’s talk about the second aspect that’s category. If we go in a presentation just by listing 20 topics, People will be very confused and they will think you are going to talk a lot. So it’s always important to bucket them. Let’s look at an experiment: In a Library there was a stack of 400 books and another with 500 books. When people were asked which stack had more books, no one was able to determine which stack had more books. Now they put these books in bucket, 400 books were put in 10 categories and 500 books were put in 6 categories. Categories are made like fiction, science, kids, literature etc. Now when people were asked about which section had more books then people said that 10 category bucket has more books. The reason for this is that people understand category not just the numbers. Categories are also easy to navigate and find out what your customers are looking for.

That applies for presentation as well, we must have 3-4 main topics and all other topics must be categorized in these main topics.

What should you do now?

When you go in the next presentation Please follow these 3 simple rules::

1. Let your audience know WHAT they are going to learn from the presentation and WHY that learning is important for them.

2. Choose 3-4 main topics to talk about.

3. For all other topics categorize them in your 3-4 main topics.

Now let me know what you think about this blog by leaving a comment below.


  1. Very Interesting and informative..I totally agree with what you explained..

    1. Thanks Rahul. I am working on few more things so keep watching :-)

  2. Interesting thoughts.
    If you haven't checked it out already, watch .

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Hi Nitin,

    Felt awesome to hear you :) feeling nostalgic after reading your blog miss u all :)
    amazing thoughts :)