How to Prepare a Talk in 5 Minutes

How to Prepare a Talk in 5 Minutes

Article by Delia Lloyd – Associate

We’ve all been there. You’re in a meeting, minding your own business, when your boss suddenly turns to you and says: “I’d like you say something about XXX in 5 mins.” You smile politely and nod. “Sure,” you respond. “No problem.”

Inside, however you’re panicking. You’re always super prepared when you give a talk. You like to have all your ducks in a row. But 5 minutes? What if you say the wrong thing? Or forget to make your key point? Or – worst of all – ramble incoherently?

Worry not. Even with only five minutes to prepare, here are 3 steps you can take to nail your presentation:

a. Have a plan. Even a skeleton plan is better than none at all. So if someone asks you to speak off the cuff, grab a napkin or a piece of paper and scribble some ideas down. Remember the Boy Scout motto: be prepared.

b. Keep your plan simple. The key is to have a structure. Chronology can work well – i.e., past, present future. Or you can use a mnemonic like TAP, which stands for Thank you (for being here), Appreciate (what you did on project X; fundraiser Y) and Please (stay in touch). You can also tell a story, so long as there is a clear narrative arc with a beginning, middle and end. Whatever you do, observe the Rule of Three. Remember, you won’t remember more than three points and nor will they!

c. Be brief. If I asked you to stand up and give a talk on brain surgery, you’d probably say: 1. It’s difficult. 2. It’s dangerous and 3. I hope I never have to do it. But when you know a subject inside out, you’ll be tempted to tell the audience everything you know. Don’t. Remember: less is more.