EMS Education Tips

How many slides for a 30 minute elearning program?

I create narrated flash movies that are the result of converting PowerPoint to flash with a program called Articulate Presenter. One of the most common questions I receive is “How many PowerPoint slides should I have in a 30 minute elearning program?

They are rarely satisfied with my answer, “The number of slides doesn’t matter.”

“Well someone told me to never use more than 30 slides in a 30 minute presentation.” Or I was advised this:

“We can’t have this lesson be any more than 10 slides.”

The better question is “How many words should be in the audio script for a 30 minute elearning program?

When converting PowerPoint to Flash, PowerPoint is the storyboard for designing the lesson. Each slide is like a frame in a movie. If the slide has animations it is like multiple frames in a movie. When I watch a movie every 3 to 10 seconds (sometimes even quicker) the on-screen visual changes. A newscast is filled with changing graphics. In this regard an elearning lesson is much more like a television show or movie than a classroom presentation.

30 minute lesson = ~4000 words

Typically I script elearning lessons by writing the narration in the notes view of the PowerPoint slide. The word count of the script determines the length of the lesson. 150 slides with 10 words of narration (the audio track) is a lesson that is 10 to 12 minutes long. 75 slides with a word count for the narration that is about 4100 words will be a lesson that is about 30 minutes long.

When creating a lesson I usually write one paragraph or one important point per slide. That leads to slides that will be on screen for 10 to 45 seconds. Each slide usually has one or more animations so something is happening on the screen at least every 30 seconds. Visual change with interesting audio content and opportunities to interact with the lesson helps keep students engaged throughout the lesson.

Explain your parameters for determining the length of an elearning lesson. Thanks.

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.