Ten minutes is more than enough time in which to give a compelling and effective presentation.
A lot of detailed information can be presented in ten minutes without the presentation dragging on and losing the audience’s attention. Structuring the presentation correctly is still vitally important. No one likes to be waffled at.
A basic four-section structure for your 10-minute presentation could be something like this:
1. Introduction. Tell the audience a little about yourself, briefly, and perhaps include a slide with your name and job title on as you do so.
It is also important to grab the audience’s attention during your introduction. Tell them an interesting story, or a joke, or quote some research with relevant findings.
2. With ten minutes to fill it is possible to make several main points, supported by slides or visual aids, and reinforced with details to form a compelling argument or overview of the subject matter.
Succinctly run through the points you intend to make, simplifying them to suit the audience and enable them to understand without difficulty. Trying to give too much information will overload and confuse the audience. Instead, cover a few main points well and thoroughly explain anything that might be hard to understand.
3. Use the ‘rule of three’ to explain your points. This is a memorable structure for delivering information in blocks of three items. For example, you might consider illustrating your presentation with three case studies from the real world, or three practical examples of your argument in action.
4. Finish with something that suitably rounds off your presentation. Due to the recency effect, the end of your presentation is likely to be one of the most memorable parts for most people in the audience. Make it count with a sales call-to-action, or details of a future opportunity, a web address for further contact, or even just a final summary of your points.
Don’t try to learn your presentation word-for-word
A lot of words can be said in ten minutes. Learning the entire presentation off by heart is difficult and time consuming. Instead, aim to learn the outline and key facts of each point you wish to make, and work out cues to remind yourself when to change slides.
Write out reminders on cue cards to prompt your memory, but don’t try to read your presentation entirely from paper. With practice, it will become easier to speak continuously for ten minutes without having to refer to your cue cards too often. The presentation will also flow far more smoothly.
Try to tell a story
Ten minutes can seem like a long time, and it is easy to lose the thread of your presentation. To avoid this, try to imagine your presentation as a story. All stories have a beginning, middle and end, and this can be used to keep your presentation coherent and focused. What story are you trying to tell the audience? Try to remember this if you start to go off-topic during the presentation.
Focus on the whole audience
It is often tempting to pick out an individual member of the audience and give the presentation as if you were speaking only to him or her. This can be effective over a short time, but over ten minutes, it would be hard to maintain. Instead, spread your eye contact across the whole audience, looking at different people periodically. No one likes to be stared at, but making eye contact is important.
Similarly, if you feel nervous during the presentation don’t drop your eyes to look down at your lectern or, even worse, the floor. Instead, take a breath, smile, pause momentarily if you need to, and continue.
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