If you aren’t a seasoned debater or a CEO, you’re probably really fearful of public speaking. With that, if you throw in a last-minute presentation, chances are that you’re now a ball of nerves. Last-minute presentations happen all the time, especially when you least expect it. A lot of presentations you sat through and admired were actually last-minute ones, It’s just that they didn’t look like rush jobs done just for the sake of it because a little bit of thought went into creating them. Think of a scenario. What if someone put you at gunpoint and asked you to prepare a presentation within 30 minutes? You would probably say it’s impossible. We’re here to tell you that
30 minutes is all the time you need to prepare a great 5-minute presentation that is streamlined and solid.
In the first 5 minutes, take out time to figure out the who
Think about your audience. Who are you presenting to? Put 5 minutes of thought into who they are, what you’re presenting, and if it’s relevant and related to the larger scheme of things. Start with the following parameters.
- How large is the group? You need to get a clear cut idea if you’re presenting to 200 or 20 people. Look at the demographics of your audience. Find out their age, religion, gender, and any other details that are important and will impact the examples you’ll be incorporating in your presentation. Chalk out a few points.
- How much do you think they know about your topic? Are you speaking to experts or are you speaking to people who will need details about basic ideas and terms? Think about their problems, what they’re worried about, and how you can help. Your presentation should give your audience hope and at the same time should empower them with your information. It should be practical as well as positive.
In the next 6-10 minutes think about the medium
Most presenters first jot down points on a piece of paper, then transfer it to a word document and finally move it to the slides. This wastes a lot of time and if you’re looking to finish everything within 30 minutes then you literally have no time to waste. Instead of jotting down notes on your phone or a piece of paper, pause for a minute and think about your medium because you want no transfer of information. Decide if you’re going to take the help of a teleprompter, slides, or a bunch of note cards so that you immediately pen down information on that medium or for that medium.
In the next 11-15 minutes to figure out what is it that you want on your slides
This step mainly involves taking your audience’s feelings into consideration. You want to pre-decide how you want them to feel when you’re done with your presentation.
Do you want them to feel confident, inspired? Take actionable steps? Here you need to decide on the words you choose. If you want your audience to invest or buy from you then you should narrow down your goals to a short sentence or phrase. Stephen Keague once said,
No audience ever complained of a presentation or speech being too short
The shorter your phrases are, the better your presentation. After this, you must work on what you want your audience to know. Think about all the questions you answered in the first five minutes. Break the overall message and theme into three parts- long-term, medium-term, and short-term plans OR the past, the present, and the future of your organization. Three key things are all you want your audience to know, not less, not more. Coupled with this, you should add in the tone of the speech as well. Now, you now have an overall image of the speech ready in front of you.
In the next 12-25 minutes write out your presentation
The goal of every presentation is to impress rather than to inform
This is why you must make sure that the 3 main points you had settled on have a flair to them when you speak. You need to talk about boring things with interesting examples. For example, ‘more headcount’ can be written as ‘An increase in the number of employees is critical to manage and strategize the company’s increased scope of responsibilities over the course of the year.’
The PREP formula
With a sentence chalked out for all the key points, you’re now ready to use the Point, Reason, Evidence, and Point formula, commonly known as PREP. Let’s look at an example to help you understand.
Point: The current number of employees in the company works but not as efficiently as we want.
Reason: The reason is that even though all of them are committed, smart, and strategic, they’re very less in number and that can often become overbearing on them.
Evidence: For example when our company got the big ‘X’ account last month, we had to rush over in 2 weeks to increase their production without going over the tight budgetary limit. The team did a fantastic job but everyone was severely overworked.
Point: (Reinstate) Which is why I say that our present headcount needs to be increased especially because we know we can build revenue rapidly once we have a bigger team.
Here is where you ask your team of investors to bless you with cash flow so you can hire more employees.
You can switch between the PREP points. Choose what works best for you. The reason this is great for you is that, in a limited amount of time, building points one layer at a time, helps you make the most out of your time.
- First, you make sure you have everyone’s attention with a basic idea.
- Then you divide your main topic into three parts.
- Lastly, you break your topics, flesh them out, and add examples.
This approach works wonderfully because it ensures that you don’t run out of time with only a little bit of your speech done. With this, your complete speech is ready and you have 5 minutes of time on your hands to make it better.
In the next 26-29 minutes practice your presentation
Try to memorize the first two lines of your speech so that you get a successful head start and your words have a confident and crisp tone. Don’t try too hard to memorize anything else, because if you do, you might mix up a few elements. Rehearse clearly and slowly and if you’re going use notes, underline the words that you will be emphasizing. Finally, give it a round or two of practice.
In the last minute, take a few deep breaths
You’ve done a great job so far. You went step by step through your preparation and that’s what you need. You can’t ruin your present by thinking of your outcome because there’s no way to predict it. All you need to do is calm down before you address your audience and let it reflect in your composure. It really doesn’t matter if you miss a point, or your slide deck doesn’t look visually stunning or you forget to ask a question. No one will really know the difference. Carl W. Buechner once said
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel
So, stop focusing on the details of what you have to say and focus on how you can get your audience to feel comfortable in your presence, engage with you, ask you questions and leave the room feeling happy and satisfied. You know you had a limited amount of time to do this and the people in the audience won’t be coming in with a presentation design in mind. So take a deep breath and relax. You’ve got this!