If asked to give a presentation on a complex subject in 10 minutes, many of us would look dubious. Some might even think it was impossible.
But it’s not. Recently, the three cities in the running to be awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics (Annecy in France, Pyeongchang in South Korea and Munich in Germany) were invited to make presentations to the Olympic Council of Asia during the Asian Games. They each had 10 minutes.
I think we can agree that making the case for your city to host an Olympic Games comes under the heading of “complex” – especially when you’re talking to representatives of countries none of which will be attending the event.
Yet by all accounts, the speakers did a good job.
Sometimes, having less time is not only fine, it actually improves your presentation. The reason for this is probably to do with Parkinson’s Law: the proposition that work expands to fill the amount of time available for its completion.
If someone asked you to give a presentation and said you had 30 minutes, the chances are that you would take up the entire half-hour. You might even find it somewhat restricting. The result is likely to be padding, repetition, an element of beating around the bush. And the usual “death by PowerPoint” might well result for your audience.
But if you only had 10 minutes, you would automatically eliminate the waffle and cut to the chase.
You may have heard of the so-called Elevator Pitch, also known as the One-Minute Pitch. The idea behind this is to present an idea to a prospective buyer or other interested party in the amount of time it takes to travel in a lift.
Again, this might sound daunting. What can you possibly say in just 60 seconds on a complicated topic?
But again, it can be done – and it has been. You may recall Tourism Queensland in Australia offering what was quickly billed a “dream job” or “the best job in the world”. The role was to spend six months working as a caretaker and resident blogger on an island in the Great Barrier Reef. The pay was AUS$105,000 and accommodation was in a three-bedroom villa complete with pool.
With this sort of compensation on offer to explore the unspoilt beauty of the Great Barrier Reef’s islands, the Queensland authority was not surprisingly deluged with applications. But they cunningly cut down the effort required to judge the applicants by asking them to submit a 60-second video on why they were right for the job.
In a one-minute pitch, every word counts and planning is critical. You have to focus on putting across the excitement and the real benefits of whatever you’re proposing. It’s aspirational, dynamic, engaging and compelling. Done properly, your audience won’t be sitting with glazed eyes but will be on the edge of their seats.
The same is true with a short presentation such as ten minutes. All the padding will be removed – resulting in a leaner, meaner and more riveting talk.
So the next time you have a presentation to make, why not try cutting the time available for it in half? You (and your audience) might be pleasantly surprised to find that less really can be more.