A Comprehensive Guide on Short Presentations

short presentations are presentation that have limited number of slides ranging from 12-20 and time duration ranging from 2-15 minutes

A short presentation is a presentation that conveys a point or a topic in brief within the span of 5 to 12 mins. It generally sticks to the main idea with a speed of 120-160 words per minute. Short presentations approximately have 12-20 slides depending on the depth of the topic and also differ in length from person to person.

Imagine a situation where you missed your presentation day due to some reasons and now your teacher/ senior is furious and is threatening you that they will give a remark that could be damaging to your student/work résumé. But somehow you convince them to give you a second chance. However, the condition is that the presentation that you had prepared for should be now presented in just 2-5 minutes or else give up. What to do? And how to do it? 

A short presentation. What is that? So, when you must research a particular concept or topic in detail but explain or present it in brief that is 5 to 10 mins is known as a short presentation. One gives a short presentation with the thought in mind that their audience’s attention span is small. Short presentations are even used in daily life while convincing someone, explaining a thought, pitching an idea, etc. in a well-presented manner. For instance, to convince your parents to let you go on a trip with your friends you make a short presentation on ‘XX reasons why I should be allowed to go on a trip with my friends’ ‘or why should you be allowed to adopt a pet’. 

Furthermore, recent research showed that the 12 slide presentations pitches outclassed their longer counterparts and were also stated as more effective.  

Short Presentation Terms  

Additionally, there are some terms used for short presentations. One of the terms is known as lightning talk; this is a noticeably short presentation given in forums or conferences that lasts for only a few minutes. They only focus on certain important key points and discuss as many ideas as possible in a fleeting time span. 

Furthermore, other types of short presentations include Ignite and Pecha Kucha. Having the Japanese meaning of chit chat, Pecha Kucha is adopted from the phrase “talk less show more”. Here the presenter talks for exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds with 20 slides lasting 20 seconds (set to change periodically). Pecha Kucha nights involve people sharing personal presentations about their work or any specific topic with 8 to 14 presentations per event. 

Likewise, ignite talks is a series of events (somewhat like ted talks) where the presenter is given 5 minutes to present 20 slides with each taking 15 seconds and then automatically advancing. It was presumably inspired from Pecha Kucha and started in Seatle before reaching to more than 350 countries. 

To know more about the several types and styles of presentation, read our article – The 6 Types Of Presentation (And Why You Need Them)

Creation, Practice and Presentation  

How do you execute a successful short presentation? In order to do that you need to be proficient with the ‘CPP’ of the presentation that is creation, practice/preparation, and presentation. If you become familiar with these steps it could be easier for you to make a compelling presentation. 


 Creating a presentation is the first and the most crucial step to a good presentation. Knowing what to add and how much to add can have a profound impact during the demonstration.  

1. Correct Topic

Firstly, choosing the correct topic if given a choice is a major decision. Selecting a topic that is too complex and lengthy might confuse you as well as your audience and create a bad impression. Easier topics might result in less information overload and more information grasping or perceiving. 

2. Information Filter

Subsequently, filter out the points that you feel are the most important to be added after completing your research. Taking up points with extra information could take up your presentation time. 

3. Target audience Knowledge

Tertiarily, know your target audience. Having the time constraints, you do not want to bore the audience with the information that they already know or the information that they do not want to know or is useless to them. Thus, do you research well and only add the points that are relevant to your audience.  

4. Presentation Quantity and Quality

Try to keep the average number of slides between 12-20 depending on the time that you have in your hand. Moreover, use a good template, even if the presentation is short, it should appear appealing to the audience.  

5.Timed Intervals

Keep your transitions interval coupled with the time you want to take on a particular slide; that is use auto transition during your slideshow so that you are aware of your time limit. 

6. Effective Opening

Make your opening one that steals the attention of the audience. Since you have less time to present make sure the audience focuses from the start, if they would not be able to do this you would anyways have to end presentation in the next few minutes (as you less time) with no one getting what you just presented or getting your idea. Some of the good opening remarks are included in our article – 10 Of The Best Things To Say In Opening Remarks

7. Crammed vs Clean

Lastly, avoid cramming in much information on a slide, try to keep your slide more visual and cleaner. Too much information on a slide could look unappealing and the audience could also not be able to complete reading before the slide transitions.  


short presentations give you more time for practice/ preparation and thorough practice makes you more confident on stage.

The second step is preparation or practice. Now as the slides are less and the creation part is completed quickly one gets a lot of time to practice.

A) Time Yourself

Start off with timing your presentation, make sure you finish off with your presentation on the allotted time limit, 10 secs here and there is fine but try to refrain from taking more time than that. Specifically, practice in slideshow mode so that you can synchronize your speaking time with the transitioning of the slides. 

B) Rehearse with Coach Feature

If nobody is around to practice with, you could use rehearse with Coach feature (only available if you have made your presentation on PowerPoint) to correctly time and practice your presentation. It analyses your pace, use of filler words (like uh, uhm, etc.), your pitch, if you are simply just reading from the slide, culturally sensitive terms etc. 

To learn to use the rehearse with coach feature, watch the video below: 

C) Pace perfecting

Practicing your pace is essential. You ought to pick up a perfect pace, do not speak too fast just because you are timed (though sometimes you might speak fast unconsciously so practice thoroughly), choose a pace where the audience can contemplate what you are saying. Do not speak so slowly that you surpass your cutoff time. Try to avoid fillers, this can decrease your time and give you more speaking time. However, time your speech such that you finish before the time limit as sometimes you unconsciously also might use the fillers and end up pausing frequently.  

D) Understand and Memorize

Likewise, try to memorize (although do not mug it up!) your speech as much as possible resist simply reading from a paper or slides, it looks unprofessional. 


The final and the most unnerving step is the presentation. This is the evaluation day where all your effort will be examined and judged. First of all, make sure that you calm yourself before the presentation. If you start panicking or become nervous you might mess up the presentation and as it is a short presentation, you might not even have time to cover up. 

Use different techniques to be calm like meditation, talking to a close one, bioenergetics etc., to learn about being less nervous watch our video – 

Remember the practice that you have done, remember all the important points (like your pace should not be too fast), revise your content and make sure you look confident and interactive. Lastly, do not be extremely nervous, remember you just have to present for 5-10 mins but make that time count and impress the audience. 

Importance of Short Presentations 

So, short presentations are omnipresent and used in almost every field. Therefore, they become an important soft skill to acquire. Some reasons highlighting the importance of short presentations comprise of: 

Time constraint. In this technological era people are available 24*7 and can be contacted anytime. Hence, with increased online hours to keep themselves updated with the world and work hours; people have very less time to spare to attend long presentations of you pitching in your ideas. Therefore, short presentations work as saviors here in getting your idea to the audience without taking much of their time. 

Moreover, it helps you identify and focus on your key message. Short presentations improve your identification and inclusion of important points. It enhances your skill to explain your skill to explain your point in short even in daily life, preventing you from losing the interest of others and from becoming that boring person in the room that explains way too much. As a bonus it also increases the chance of your senior choosing you to interact with the client. 

Why Short Presentations are Better 

What makes short presentations so widely used and convenient? There are many benefits of short presentations. 

1. Time saving

As mentioned above, short presentations save the audience as well as the presenter a lot of time, and besides, they also cover loads of topics in truly little time, giving each person a chance to put forth their ideas and thoughts. It also saves time on the creation part of the presenter thus giving them more time to practice. 

2. Less attention time

This is a desirable alternative for those who hate long stage time or presenting in front of others (either due to anxiety, stage fear or any other reasons). This could furthermore be a stepping stone for those who want to get rid of their fears of prolonged hours on stage but want to systematically desensitize themselves to it and not in one go. 

3. End moment revision

Short presentations are helpful in explaining everything in a gist and hence they are great resources for end moment revision before an exam when one has less time to study in detail. Teachers can use it during revision lectures or students can use them as reference notes as they are self-explanatory. 

4. Useful for short attention spans

Nowadays people have a short attention span and they are less tolerant towards long presentations. They are not interested in the long thesis of a topic, they need what, why and how it will affect or benefit them. Therefore, short presentations keep them focused on what you are saying and make them understand your idea more effectively. 

5. More time to practice

With short presentations after completing the creation part one gets a lot of time to practice and do some extra research to get well acquainted with the topic that they are presenting on. This further helps them during the questions and answers sessions to solve the audience’s doubt clearly. 

6. Easier evaluation

Short presentations are easier for the professors or the authorities to evaluate. If they assign short presentations to their students or employees, authorities can get a clear understanding of their presentation and research skills in a shorter time. The short length makes evaluating skills 40-50 people simpler and less tiring.  

7. Additional benefits

Added advantages of short presentations include getting more time for the interactive or QandA sessions with the audience. Consequently, you also have the time to know the opinions, thoughts, and experience of the audience; along with their reviews. 

Challenges of a short presentation 

Short presentations are many times thought of as easier because of their limited number of slides and the short duration. However it comes with its own challenges and drawbacks.  

Concise Points

The most important skill to make a short presentation is the ability to keep your points concise but understandable. The audience should be able to get the idea even in 4 words. Lack of this skill could make it quite difficult for you to end your presentation in a given time limit. 

Tight Time Constraints

Besides, as you have time constraints, it gets difficult to add all the information that you find important. You would need to filter out the essential information from the additional ones and further select the information that you think of as the most important. Keep the rest as backup slides in case you need it (for a proper guide on backup slides check out our article – Backup Slides: The Six Situations Saviors). This takes up a lot of your cognitive resources. 

Less but not Incomplete

Next is that you need to choose the right and sufficient information. Giving out incomplete information that does not make sense. It becomes incomprehensible to your audience and they might end up misunderstanding and taking away the wrong message or even worse lose attention during your presentation.  

Uses up a lot of cognitive resources

Every second counts during a short presentation. Creating a short presentation requires more focus, efficacy, and better attention to detail. Therefore, short presentations become cognitively more taxing to deal with.  

Limited Interactive Elements

Furthermore, don’t beat around the bush while presenting. You need to come straight to your point and explain it in brief. Hence, you might not be able to add interactive elements like storytelling, activities, or social experiments. However, you could add these after you complete your presentations if extra time is left. 

Duration and word limit per minute  

The duration of short presentations might range from 2-15 minutes depending on the topic one chooses or the time limit given to them. However, the average duration of a short presentation could be around 7 mins. 

Similarly, the average pace of the speaker should be 120-160 words per minute so that the speaker sounds comprehensive to the audience (however even this could differ from speaker to speaker).  

The right duration and pace would affect the evaluation of the authority. This further might earn you some points so keep that in mind while presenting. 


It is important to keep the points mentioned above in mind as a guide for a short presentation. Hence to make it easier to verify, here is a checklist of the guidelines:  

 No choosing of complex topics  
 Filtering out valuable information 
 Know your target audience  
 Use good template 
 Transitions timed with speaking duration 
 Attention grabbing opening 
 No cramming of too much information on a slide 
 Finish the presentation within the allotted time limit 
 Practice with someone around or use rehearse with coach feature 
 Practice your pace (on an average 120-160 words per minute) 
 Avoid using fillers  
 Try to memorize and not read from slides or paper (although do not mug up) 
 Calm yourself before presentation 
 Recall the tips (like perfect pace) 
 Revise your content  
 Try to appear confident and interactive (“fake it till you make it”) 

Effective short presentations in shorter time  

Imagine that some client your organization wanted to have a meeting with since many days. They have suddenly cleared up their schedule and wants to arrange a meeting with you tomorrow. However, you still have not prepared the short presentation for the meeting, what would you do? Here are some tips that you could take into account  

First off, starting with creation make your presentation as short as possible. The audience is not going to focus on the quantity of your content but the quality and the important points. Remember that even if your presentation is short, you should have a thorough knowledge of your content. 

Try to add an interactive section if possible, this would help you connect with the audience but more importantly lessen your speaking part as the audience would take that up.  

Consequently, keep your talking points simple. Do not add complex points and explanations making it difficult to remember in less time and recall during the presentation. You could add a story or personal experience that you remember, this way you would have less content to memorize as you already know it. 

Lastly, even if you have less time to practice try to appear confident. As quoted “fake it till you make it.” This would possibly increase the audience’s belief in what you say. 

If you want to be clued more up on how to prepare for presentation with no preparation time, learn from our video: 

Short Presentation Examples  

Short presentations are short with fewer points and its visuals are also simple and sober. There are no too fancy animations, transitions, or designs, just something that looks appealing and conveys the message effectively. Some of these kinds of presentations of a few brands are: –  


Short presentations are a part and parcel of life used in every work-field, as well as for day-to-day purposes. Short presentations have several benefits but not without their challenges. Learning to make an effective short presentation is a skill to acquire. By correctly using all the guidelines there would be no reason for you to not have a successful performance. 

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