The daunting task of sitting down to work on a presentation that needs to be effective enough to get your point across as quickly and efficiently as possible, might want you to curl up deeper inside your blanket.
Here’s the good part: You can read this article on your phone from your comfy hideout.
As much as people picture presentations to be a difficult task, I personally, enjoy it!
To find the right colour scheme or infographic, or when the text and picture align perfectly, it is a fun experience clicking F5 and just watching your creation seamlessly spill out facts after facts while looking so minimalistic and neat!
Now that you know what I dream about at 2:00 PM in the afternoon, let’s get to work on creating and delivering a well curated, killer presentation which is short and effective, regardless if you have presentation daydreams or not!
What is a Short Presentation?
It would be a really awkward start if you were trying to hit a bullseye without the target board.
I present to you the simplest explanation of a short presentation from my caffeine induced writing:
Short presentations are for no longer than 5 minutes that gives an idea about what the topic is.
It is sort of an overview of your topic and really makes you prioritise what content you need to add in your presentation. We’ll get to this shortly, keep scrolling!
Before we begin working on our presentation, we need an outline or sort of checklist that will help us create our 5 minute presentation.
This will give us an idea of what our presentation will look like.
Essentially for a 5 minute presentation we’re looking at covering 5 topics that will bring your presentation to a complete circle. Let’s get cracking!
Every presentation needs an introduction, even with a time crunch, this is a very important step in a presentation.
This gives your audience time to form their own opinions on the topic and build a connection with the speaker (that’s you!)
A killer opening might just make those first impressions all positive! Check out this video to work on your introductions:
Now that you have an idea about what exactly you do in an introduction, let’s make one thing clear, for a 5 minute presentation, your introduction needs to be extremely short. Again. For the people in the back: 5 minute presentation introductions need to be EXTREMELY SHORT.
Before you make assumptions and finish your introduction in two lines, let’s give you a time frame: 15 – 40 seconds, based on your topic. This would give you enough time to make an impression and add relevant content as well.
2. Problem Statement / Details of what you are addressing
This slide is like knowing the problem, knowing the answer and just talking about it.
Usually a 5 minute presentation just has one topic or a major focus, you can either explain a problem that your topic solves like how Electric Vehicles solve the whole gas pricing increasing, long term savings issue and of course sustainability and global warming.
Once you find an angle, your answer essentially becomes your topic.
PS. I wouldn’t take more than a slide to address the problem. Using too many slides in just 5 minutes will only distract your audience.
We have the question and the answer and just like every math solution site ever, in the previous slide we haven’t shown them the work, the way to get to the answer.
We’re better than that aren’t we? Let’s build solutions, show them the work. If we are talking about EVs being cheaper in the long run, do the math, show them how much they invest and how it makes a difference.
This section is the most content heavy part of your presentation, you can talk about your ideas, innovation, theories and play around with games and tricks during your presentation because this is where you audience will begin to dose off or get excited but creating the excitement is up to you.
If your presentation is more research based than on your personal work, using a lot of verbal stats might be your go to, but remember numbers everywhere will confuse your audience.
A good trick would be to add most of your statistics on your slides and highlight / mention the most impactful ones.
In most theories or even hard facts there are always gaps and cracks, even Marvel came out with a “What if” series!
It is always good to address these cracks once you give your solutions, maybe even fuse the two together to keep things interesting.
This helps the audience go “Oh, that is wicked” or just get them thinking, talking about the topic.
This is the most crucial, yet flexible part of your presentation. Remember that it is only for 5 minutes so you really have a time crunch by now. You can’t really sum up everything.
The good thing is you don’t need to! One perk of 5 minute presentations is that it is very direct and short. This means that pretty much most of your content is still fresh in your audience’s mind.
All you need to do now is work on a killer ending. Here’s a video that can help!
Content and Delivery
Now that we know what the final presentation might look like, let’s work on building it by going into detail about it.
Let’s work on this the way Toastmasters International evaluates our speeches. Divide it into Content and Delivery.
On the content front, we will be covering everything from the colours, fonts, animation topics, prioritising content, the type of words we can use, and a few other things that happen before you step on the stage.
For delivery, we’ll be working on the show-person inside you, from everything about how and where you can stand to what you can do apart from the presentation to grab the audience’s attention and more!
I understand some of you might be a little curious about the “Toastmasters International” thing. It is a public speaking forum. Since I know some of us here are visual learners while others prefer to read, if you are interested in exploring it, you can check out our article: All About Toastmasters – What Is It, My Journey And Why You Should Try It or check out this video:
We will be going chronologically because just like presentations, in articles too, we can’t eat the cake until after we bake it! Let’s get going!
Put on your creative hat and let’s get cracking.
Being an expert in a topic is usually a good thing but sometimes, experts know too much when compared to a complete beginner. There are three ways this situation can play out.
- You skim over some extremely important yet insignificant looking foundational topics because you’ve chosen to prioritise a complex topic.
- You dumb down things waaaay too much and you end up adding not much value for your audience or to your presentation
- You do it just right, the right content and explanation, because either you have a knack for teaching or are a teacher, or just remember the days when you were a beginner perfectly.
Here is the catch, how do you know that your audience is a beginner crowd? This is one of the most important factors while prioritising your content.
Understanding your audience
Once you know your audience it becomes so much more easier to gauge the type of content that would add value and be useful to them.
You can use it to understand what type of topics you can cover, for beginners they might be looking at careers and building their foundation while the experts would rather enjoy a more technical and “in the news” take on the topic.
Check out our video to gain a better understanding on how to analyse your audience!
2. Colours, fonts, layout and more!
We need to make your presentation look direct, concise and cute (this is the adjective I am going with, feel free to add your own!)
Colours, fonts and layouts and infographics and all of the other tools are something that gives your presentation a personality, and I believe it is best to find a colour scheme that reflects your personality.
For example, if you are a person who love minimalistic artefacts and aesthetics, a more softer, mellow, and essentially beige colour scheme is what would bounce off your personality on the stage.
If you are confused about what say “you” the best, the quickest way to define yourself with an adjective and go to Pinterest and search that word with maybe these keywords:
- Bedroom Ideas
- Office Décor
- Outfit ideas
And pick the theme that you like the most!
If you are finding it hard to define yourself, try figuring out how you want to come across in your presentation, do you want to appear organised – minimalist is the adjective for it. If you are looking to be intelligent or futuristic – techy / tech savvy could be an option.
Another way to figure out the colours, fonts and layouts and all the other tools of a presentation is to go by topic. Find out what your topic talks about and build your presentation personality from there!
This is another quick and easy way to work on efficient presentations. Use readymade templates! There is no hard and fast rule that says you need to create your presentation from scratch. If it makes your life easy, why not!
With using templates comes this additional benefit of not needing to hunt for infographics or images or a neat layout, it is all handed out to you in a platter. They even have topic specific layouts created and ready to use! How cool is that?!?
There are so many sites out there for exactly this, some are listed below!
3. Slides Carnival
The length of your presentation, here, the number of slides you have, should be in the range of 5-7.
Remember you are preparing for a presentation that will last for about 5 minutes and changing more than 1-2 slides a minute is time consuming and the audience would not be able to decide whether they should be focusing on what you are saying or showing.
I understand that wanting to speak about so many cool things within 5 minutes is not enough, I have been there!
Here is an easy way to refine your presentations to be as direct and crisp as possible:
Step 1: Data Dump
Do the data dump first. All the things you’ve prioritised and decided that you want to keep in your presentation, dump it all into your slides topic wise.
Step 2: Organise
Once you have all your data, move the slides around, find an order that goes from level 0 to level X – you decide the number of levels based on your topic!
Build a flow of information that is easy to grasp and understand and doesn’t jump back and forth as much.
Step 3: Edit
Now that you know what goes where and what comes after what, you can now choose to scrap topics (yes again, the more you refine the more you can get the perfect well rounded finish on your presentation) and combine them.
Step 4: Make pretty!
If you are combining topics in your presentation, doesn’t mean you make it crowded and too much information for the audience to consume, they would end up reading the slide instead of paying any attention to you and we do not want that, no matter what your stage fright tells you.
You presentation needs to look neat, appealing to the eye, not hard to read and simple.
If it is getting too much, I would suggest going to one of the template sites mentioned above and just check out the various templates available to get a grasp on what I am talking about. It is extremely simple and easy. You got this!
Here is another article you can check out to see what other tools you can use to make your presentation better! 5 Presentations Tools To Use With Multimedia Presentations
4. Other effects
Things like animation, slide transitions and other effects have a huge advantage in making your presentation look pleasing to the eye, but is it very easy to overdo it.
Here is a hack that I use to make sure that I never make my presentation “too much.”
One word: Consistency.
If you are using a slide transition, make sure to apply it to all your slides. This creates a form of flow (try saying that 5 times quickly!) in your delivery.
Also, given that you do not have many slides, it doesn’t make sense for you to waste time on transitions both while creating and delivering your presentation.
The same goes for animations, there are so many options available, you can even make them come on clicks and use it as a “step-wise” explanation technique.
There are so many things you can do to have a killer delivery, but the fact is that to bask in your limelight for those 5 minutes, you need to prepare fairly in advance.
Let’s check out a few things that you can do to help rock your delivery!
1. Use the right pronouns
I am a proud ally and one way I can effect change is though what I do.
Here’s my tip to you, try asking for any person’s pronouns before you address them with one. If you are uncomfortable asking, instead of using an assumptive pronoun, use they/them. It is gender neutral and puts forth a more formal and no-conflict tone.
It is important to announce your pronouns as well for people to know how they are supposed to address you.
Here is a helpful article I found about gender pronouns if you are interested in learning more about it! What To Know About Gender Pronouns
This won’t require you to explore Pinterest but it would help if you check out the room you are going to be speaking in.
Make sure to wear well contrasting colours with the background and the presentation so that you stand out and make it easy for your audience to spot you and refocus when they dose off or aren’t attentive.
3. Move it
Let’s say that you’ve got a well lit room, your outfit does not blend in with the background and your presentation is both interactive and informative. You stand in one place and begin. You are doing everything right and yet, the audience seems distracted.
One possible explanation would be that you are stagnant and in being so, for the audience, you may not have blended into the background but you have become a part of it!
Moving around when you give a presentation is effective, but you need to gauge when to do it. An easy hack to this is: Speak-Stay, Transition-Transportation.
It essentially means that when you are speaking or delivering an important point, stay in one place, the only thing the audience should need to focus on is your content, but when you move from one topic or segment to another, you move, it shows the audience that they are moving on from topic to another and helps smoothen your transitions.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, there might be situations where you can not move, less stage area, the mic is attached to the podium, it is an online platform or physical limitations. Do not fret. It is okay and you can use your voice by changing tones or effect transitions instead or you can come up with your own creative technique!
4. Make things relevant
Is your presentation about palaeontology or space travel?
It can be anything under the sun, but one of the best ways to keep the audience alert and interested is by connecting it to the present.
Basic Human Psychology. Talk or mention something that they possibly would’ve heard about and their ears will prick up, or ask them a simple question like “Have you heard about XYZ?” and wait for their response, react, connect that to your content and move on.
This will make the audience feel that they know something about the topic and will keep them interested.
Wait. How do you know what the audience knows? Current Affairs.
There is always some news which is trending or controversial or simply too important that it is all people talk about, use that to your benefit, read up on your current affairs and decide what suits your content the best and work on segue to bring it up enough to hold your audience’s attention but not too detailed that you deviate from the topic.
There are various other ways to keep your audience engaged, check out this TedTalk to learn more about it!
Examples of 5 Minute Presentations
Here are some examples to help you understand different ways you can build your presentation!
Now that you have an easy guide to creating and delivering a killer short presentation, here are a few topic ideas that you might like to use!
- Adopting a pet
- Endangered Species
- Therapy Animals
- Financing for College
- How to choose your major
- Coffee – Good / Bad Habit
- Body Shaming
- Social Media and its importance
- Outer space
- Stereotypes and superstitions (like using the number 13!)
Short presentations are fairly easy to give and are fun. If you find it difficult, that is normal too. Just take it one step at a time and prioritise your content FIRST, trust me. A mammoth of your work will be done.
Deep breaths and steps at your own pace, you’ll get there. 🙂