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What is the Difference between a Presentation and a Slide?

People often use the terms “Presentation” and “Slide” interchangeably. But, do these terms mean one and the same thing? If not, what exactly is the difference between a Presentation and a Slide?

The main difference between a presentation and a slide is that a slide is just a single page of a presentation document whereas a presentation is an actual process of sharing and presenting the information present on the slides.

There are several other similar terms that are used when referring to presentations. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of these terms and clear the confusion around it!

Difference between a Presentation and a Slide?

Hopefully, you have already understood the main difference between a presentation and a slide. Let’s look at the two in further detail, and understand the nuances.

What is a Slide?

A slide, as we may have already understood, is a single page of a presentation.

An image describing a slide in a PowerPoint presentation

In the above image, as you may notice, all the individual pages that we get within a presentation is referred to as “Slides“. You may even notice the numbers on the top left corner of each slide in the normal view much like the page numbers on a word document.

These numbers indicate the slide number within a particular presentation file. Even though they indicate the slide number, these are not visible when giving the presentation in the slide show mode (we’ll talk about slide show a bit later in the article).

In order to create a presentation file, you’ll be required to work on each individual slides.

However, many people tend to make this one big mistake! That is, creating slides by writing content as though they would on a page of a word document. One needs to keep in mind that creating a slide is not just about putting a bunch of words together, rather sharing it in a visually appealing and engaging manner with the audience.

Creating a beautiful slide is an art in itself, and it takes skills and an eye for design to create an aesthetically pleasing slide.

What is a Presentation?

A person giving a presentation

A presentation is a means of communication. It is the process of sharing the information present on the slides! A presentation can also take the form of a demonstration of a product, design, or ideas!

A presentation differs from a slide from the fact that the person giving a presentation ideally uses the slide as a base to build upon the points he/she wants to communicate with the audience.

It is quite common to use slides while giving a presentation in today’s modern world. That said, a presentation goes beyond even having any slides! What I mean is that a presentation can be given even without having any slides.

While a single slide can also be construed as a presentation in a scenario when while giving the presentation, the presenter uses just 1 slide. Although, this is an extremely rare occurrence!

It is important to note that some people are really good at creating an aesthetically pleasing slide, while others are great at presenting or sharing the information present on a slide!

Both of the aforementioned activities require a different set of skills. It is quite common to hire or outsource the activity of creating the slides in order to deliver a successful presentation.

Difference between Slide and Slideshow?

Now that we’ve understood the difference between a slide and a presentation, let’s compare another term that people often get confused with – slide vs. slideshow

While a slide is a single page of the presentation document, a slide show is when multiple slides are put together for the purpose of supplementing the presentation to be delivered.

In a nutshell, when a series of slides, usually comprising of images, are displayed using an electronic display device such as a projector screen, it is known as a slide show.

A slide show can also have some background music (an example would be a slide show given at a friend’s wedding). A slide show may either be controlled (for example when giving a presentation), or it may run in a loop (for example in a company booth at a business conference).

Difference between a Slide and Slide Deck?

Another term that you may hear a lot is a “Slide Deck”. It may also be used in combination with other words such as “Pitch Deck” or a “Presentation Deck”. So, let’s understand what it means.

A slide deck is basically a group of slides together used for giving a presentation.

While this may feel similar in meaning to a slide show, the only major difference is its history!

The term slide deck evolved from the olden days when physical slides were used to give a presentation.

Kodak Carousel 4400 slide projector with a slide tray to insert the slide deck (Photo by Steve Morgan)

Each slide would have a particular piece of information (just as it does today), and all these slides were physically stacked together in the particular desired order to form a deck; much like a deck of cards.

This was done to ensure that the order of the slides doesn’t get changed. This made the term “Slide Deck” synonymous with a presentation.

Today, with the advent of technology, one cannot imaging using physical slides to give a presentation! Just like the technology for presentations, the terminology also changed from Slide Deck to Slide Show. However, the core principle remains the same.

Difference between PowerPoint and Presentation?

Another pair of terms that people highly used interchangeably is PowerPoint and Presentation. So far, we’ve already understood the terms slide, slide show, slide deck and presentation. So, how does the term PowerPoint fit in this?

PowerPoint is a presentation design software owned and provided by Microsoft to its customers as part of its Office Suite. There are several versions of Microsoft PowerPoint. The software is usually updated with new features in its newest release version.

PowerPoint was first launched by a software company “Forethought Inc.”. The software was initially designed to work only on Macintosh computers only. However, in it’s first major acquisition, Microsoft bought PowerPoint and was first brought to the market in 1990 for Windows.

The software became so popular with the users that a presentation is often referred to as “PowerPoint” or “PPT” (which is the file extension of the PowerPoint files).

So, the key difference between PowerPoint and Presentation is that PowerPoint is basically a tool or software to create digital presentations. A presentation can be given with or without a PowerPoint file.

By the way, the screenshot that you saw earlier in the article that showcases the meaning of slides is from a PowerPoint file.

PowerPoint is not the only presentation design software available to the users. In fact, there are literally hundreds of tools to design a presentation. But, PowerPoint by far is the most commonly used and most successful presentation design software.

How many Slides should a Presentation have?

This is a question that haunts most people who need to give a presentation and create the deck. Is there a good number that you should restrict your slides in a presentation to?

While there is no fixed “one size fits all” approach when it comes to creating presentations and limiting the number of slides in a presentation, ensuring that your presentation doesn’t go beyond 20 slides on average!

In a research published in the Marketing Education Review on the topic of Optimizing Learning by Examining the Use of Presentation Slides, it was cited that blank stares were visible amongst audience members when listeners were overwhelmed with too many slides are text-heavy slides.

Thus, it is important to restrict our presentation to no more than 20 slides. Consider the time available at hand when giving a presentation. A 20-slide presentation can be delivered in about 30 minutes.

According to Guy Kawasaki, an angel investor who reviewed several hundreds of pitch presentations every day, is a strong evangelist of the 10 slide rule (now popularly known as the 10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint)

However, a 10-slide PowerPoint presentation may work well for an investor pitch, it may not suffice for most of the other purposes.

How to Create an Attractive PowerPoint Presentation?

Everyone wants their presentation to look attractive. After all, we all understand the importance of a good first impression!

But, when you don’t necessarily have the required skills, how then can you create an attractive presentation?

Fortunately, we wrote a detailed post on how anyone could make their presentation attractive even if they are a complete beginner! Be sure to check out the article!

The tips shared in that article are absolute GOLD! I’m not sure why people are not giving these such simple tips to others.

If you are not comfortable using even the tips mentioned in the article, and you feel like you need some time to gain the skills, then I would recommend hiring a good design agency who will ensure that your presentation turns out to be an attractive one!