Narrated Presentation Best Practices

Presentation Length

As a general rule, try to keep your narrated presentations under 20 minutes in length. That equates to approximately 10 to 20 slides per presentation. Research conducted by Dr. Maureen Murphy at the University of North Texas found that people enjoyed 20-minute chunked presentations more, learned more information immediately after, and retained more information a month later than presentations over 60 minutes in length. If your narrated presentation is lengthy, consider breaking it into more granular chunks.

Slide Design

5|5|5 Rule

Keep the slides simple and easy to read. As a general rule, we encourage you to follow the 5|5|5 rule:

  • No more than five words per line of text
  • Five lines of text per slide
  • Five text-heavy slides in a row

Slides that are too dense with content can often result in students being unable to perform or process information.


Use graphics wherever possible to tell a story. Like the intent behind billboard ads, a student should be able to comprehend information from a slide after a short glance. Imagery can help achieve this. Incorporating imagery will also help you reduce text content and improve engagement by illustrating concepts using graphics instead of text.

Translating Data to Visuals

Finally, consider translating data into visual representations if you use statistics to convey a concept or illustrate a point. Be as simple and straight to the point as possible, or you’ll risk confusing the audience with too much information. Sometimes, however, it is more effective to share statistics using clear and descriptive language.

Audio Narration

We encourage you to record audio narration for your presentations. Audio narration is an effective way to incorporate your perspective and expertise to help improve student learning.

Narration, in particular, is a key component anchored in the modality principle. This principle says that presenting words in audio format is more effective than merely putting them on screen.

Namely, cluttered screens with a lot going on can lead to visual overload. The narration mitigates this problem by transferring much of the load to the audio channel. People aren’t bothered with extraneous or irrelevant detail.

As a general rule, we encourage you to keep each slide’s audio narration under two minutes.

Finally, audio narration is most effective when an instructor expounds on the content displayed on the screen. Students want your perspectives and anecdotes incorporated into your narration.

Active Learning

Our Storybook Media Player is incredibly flexible and content agnostic, allowing you to incorporate videos, animation, audio narration, graphics, interactive simulations, and quizzes. When you design your narrated presentations, think about ways to fuse active learning experiences into your content. Doing so will improve student engagement and help students learn through doing.

A quiz example from a presentation using the Storybook Player.

Explore the presentation below to see the quiz usage examples!

Evergreen Content

When designing your presentation and recording your audio, please refrain from referencing specific book information like page numbers, lesson/unit numbers, and image figure numbers. If the book changes, you will not have to re-record your audio narration or change the slide design. This strategy will save you significant time when you revise the course in the future.


Finally, if you want to bounce ideas off of your instructional designer or media strategist when designing your narrated presentations, please do so! We are here to help and thoroughly enjoy working on design projects with you.

Published on July 27, 2022 at 9:11:50 am CDT. Last modified on October 20, 2022 at 4:59:07 pm CDT.