Here are some paraphrased comments I have gathered over the years by asking some speakers why they didn’t show me the slide numbers:
- “It’s a clutter and it distracts my audience.”
- “It takes up precious screen estate. Look, 1024×768 is not a lot.”
- “My talk has multiple page animations that make the slide numbers large and that makes my audience feel that I am cramping a lot of material into one hour.”
- “I just don’t see why having the slide number can be helpful.”
- “You mean I can have slide numbers? How?”
The best way for me to debunk all these (except the last) is by asking the following question:
Do you know that you can jump to a particular slide in a PowerPoint show by pressing the slide number followed by Enter? Say you want to go to slide 42 during your talk, you press 4 2 Enter (3 keys) and say voila!
This is an important feature that justifies showing the slide number. Why? This means if you show me the slide numbers, then I can ask questions by first telling you which slide I am referring to and, most importantly, you can go to that slide in 2 seconds for the rest of the audience to follow. This is a big time-saver for all of us.
P.S. There are other fully-documented but not well-used keys in the slide show mode of PowerPoint. Press ? (the question mark) in a slide show and you will see.
P.P.S. Maybe I have just sat through another PowerPoint talk with no slide numbers… I don’t remember what happened. Maybe I should consult with the Department of Truth.