More than six bullets per page will make it overcrowded if you want to keep the font size readable. A bullet point should be a maximum of six words, ideally just one or two; if it’s a full sentence, you’ll end up reading it, as will your audience.
If your slide of bullets is on screen for more than six minutes your audience will have read it, got bored and switched off.
A saying you regularly hear applied to the use of bullet points is that ‘bullets kill people – don’t let bullets kill your presentation’.
I really do believe that if you start to create a slide with a bullet point, you’re about to create a boring slide – and is that really what you want to do? Occasionally a bullet point slide can be useful, especially in a more training-oriented presentation, outlining, say, the five key points or the four core values, but use them judiciously as slide after slide of bullet after bullet gets dull very fast and you’ll see eyes glaze over.
If you must use bullet points, split them up across your presentation, never having two or more slides of bullet points back to back.
Oh, and whizzing in your bullet points from screen left, or having them appear in a burst of flame or drop from the sky doesn’t help, as your audience is distracted from the content by the improbable behaviour of the bullet point.
Resist the temptation to use every animation trick that PowerPoint offers, as your presentation ends up looking gimmicky and as if you’re trying to deflect attention from the dull delivery.
Bullet points can work very well in documents and on handouts, breaking down blocks of text into manageable bite-sized chunks. On a slide, they just get very dull, very quickly. You have been warned…