The customer calls two days before your presentation, planned weeks before. The program has changed at the last minute. They are sorry, but you will only have 15 minutes to present, instead of half an hour. Things get worse: upon arrival, the day of the presentation, you learn that you will only have 5 minutes.
This actually happened two years ago. We settled the date for presenting a software application to a big hospital, weeks in advance. The doctors needed a solution to help them in their daily job, so we had to focus on their problems. Doctors, students, and professors were going to be present. Therefore, we prepared a few slides, the software demonstration and the strategy to close the meeting.
However, days before the meeting we get a phone call, we only get 15 minutes for the demonstration. Panic ensues.
On the day of the presentation, the chief of the department receives us, loaded with laptops and brochures. He walks and talks fast, having few spare moments between meetings. Running through the maze of hallways, he tells us about 50 people are attending, more than we hoped.
Then, at the last turn, he tells us that our presentation should not go over 5 minutes. 5 minutes instead of 15.
How to manage a last-minute change of plans, and give a presentation in 5 minutes, instead of 15 minutes (or half an hour)? A good strategy is to prepare in advance for such an event and train to:
– present 3 points
– repeat 3 times the points
– give 3 examples
And all, under 5 minutes.
Present 3 points
The structure of the presentation can focus on 3 main points. For example, answering these 3 questions:
a) what is the problem you’re talking about, and how it affects the audience
b) what is the proposed solution
c) how to use this solution
Some people are too focused on their daily jobs and lose perspective. If the goal of your presentation is to open their minds, you can introduce 3 big ideas that could open their horizons. But it is not enough to expose these ideas, you also need to help the listeners to remember these points.
Repeat 3 times the main points
Any good Toastmaster introduces the main points at the beginning of their speech, then develops each point in more detail. At the end of the presentation, summarize the points in the conclusion or as a list.
Repeating the main 3 points allows the public not only to understand each idea but also to remember them. Someone hearing an idea for the first time needs this repetition, otherwise, it will be soon forgotten.
Tell them what you’re going to tell them,Dale Carnegie
then tell them,
then tell them what you’ve told them.
However, this simple, repetitive structure can bore and wear the audience. Keep their attention and bring the ideas near their own experience, by using stories or examples.
Give 3 examples or stories
You can use a real example as an introduction to the presentation. This helps everyone to project themselves in the same situation. Stressful situations like this come up from time to time in any professional life. For example, presenting your work, and having to shorten your speech to 5 minutes.
Once the introduction made, other examples can support the presented points. Circle back to the beginning example in the conclusion to show how the presented points produced the wanted outcome. Here is, as an example, how our 30, then 15, and finally 5 minutes demonstration went:
How did our meeting finally go?
On the day of the presentation we found a full U-shaped meeting room, with students and doctors seated and curios. My colleague started the meeting, introducing the goal of the presentation and thanking the organizer.
Meanwhile, I connected the laptop to their projector, then continued the speech and followed our plan, step by step:
– a short introduction to the problem the doctors encountered every day
– the 3 ways in which our solution answered to their needs
– software demonstration focusing on the 3 points, with examples
– conclusion with a summary of the 3 points
– the next steps to test and use the software solution
So what was the magic formula we used to manage the last-minute change of program?
Manage last-minute program changes by preparing a 5 minutes presentation
In the start-up world, this is the “elevator pitch”. You need to present your project in less time than taking the elevator with a potential investor or partner. This usually means less than 5 minutes.
Take the time to prepare the meeting, after setting the date or after the first change of plans. Any presentation, no matter how long, can build around 3 points. To reach the goal of your presentation, take the time to introduce the 3 points, repeat them 3 times, and give at least 3 examples.