The Five Minute Presentation

by Oliver Adria on 10/04/2010

People, when faced with the challenge to do a presentation of 5 minutes or less first look in disbelief. Is it possible to fill so much information into a 5-minute-presentation? My answer: Definitely! I have seen many great presentations in 10 minutes or less. And I think the first step to realizing that this is very possible is that we need to let go of the notion that presentations are boring PowerPoint-based 60 minute lectures held in stuffy office rooms. Presentations don’t need to be like that!

Presentations are there to communicate a message. They are not there to show one nice slide after the other. And once that idea has settled in, it is easy to see how presentations can be 5 minutes. At the most extreme, you can imagine, if you’re trying to persuade a friend to go to the theater with you, you’re doing somewhat of a presentation (“it’s great there”, “the cast is cool”, “the story plays in ancient Rome and is about…”), and that one might take one minute. And you didn’t use slides, either!

So I’ve scoured one of my favorite websites – TED (Technology Entertainment Design) – for some really good presentations that took 7 minutes and below. Some were even 3 minutes!!

On the development of a new prostethic arm (Dean Kamen, Inventor, 4:45)

This is an excellent presentation about new technology where he spends more than half (!) of the talk telling a personal story leading up to the technology, but not the technology itself. He talks about the challenges and the background of the technology. And guess what: No slides!!

On deep water exploration (David Gallo, 5:00)
In this clip, David Gallo shows some of his findings in deep-sea exploration. While he’s showing the videos he explains them, some of them funny, but all of them amazing! You shouldn’t miss this one! And hey, it’s only 5 minutes!

On success (Richard St. John, 3:10)
Even the first sentence tells you that ‘yes, it is possible’, because he starts off with “This is really a 2-hour presentation I give to high school students cut down to 3 minutes”.

These were just SOME examples of how – usually looong presentations – can be shortened, be fun and productive!

Related Presentation Posts

"I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your newsletter. Out of all the listserv type mail that I get, I always take the time to read yours." - Carole from USA

Join Carole and 1.700 readers and subscribe to the Rethink Presentations newsletter!