How To Give Your Best 15-Minute Presentation

November 14, 2022

At some point in your career, you may be privy to an opportunity of a lifetime. You'd have a chance to give a 15-minute talk at a meeting, a conference, or simply at your team gathering. This provides a great opportunity to pitch your hard work to your colleagues in an amount of time that is well within a human attention span. In the process, you'll ride a wave of attention and interest from your audience, enabling them to reconsider their view points, gain insights into your field and for you to meet other like-minded individuals.

Without a doubt, talks can captivate and teach a full audience, but many of these presentations are useless. I do not intend this as a judgment about the significance or quality of the work done. I have seen mind-blowing talks about various topics from people whose experience in their specific fields are more in-depth than most people have in their whole lifetimes, but the delivery of their talks can vary between informative and inspiring to downright boring and forgettable. But, from the baskets of those talks I’ve seen, here are some notes on the key ways that I think a talk can be really excellent.

I will keep these two things in mind when I write my talk: (1) You have limited time with your audience (2) Your audience’s expertise can vary. Keep in mind that you need to design a presentation that fits your extensive knowledge into a brief period of time and tailor the talk for the particular audience. This means that you should interpret your data for your audience so they can understand it easily. Try to adapt your talk and the remarks you make accordingly. In all, PRACTICE YOUR PRESENTATION!

How Long Should It Be?

Imagine being in the audience and the talk is not yet over. You find yourself shifting in your seat uncomfortably as you watch your clock. You can practically feel the second hand roll over a complete cycle as you look at it and overhear your colleagues jotting down the time in their notepads as it passes. Some speakers go on for 15-20 minutes with no clue whether they've gone past the allotted time. This ruined many otherwise good talks. In this instance, less is definitely better. Perhaps if they had been more efficient, they could have controlled where the focus lay, but after being plunged into eternity by their endless talk. As a speaker, be mindful of your allocated time. If it's 15 minutes- choose a topic that fits well within that stipulated time. Always ensure wiggle room for a possible Q&A session. In fact, keep your talk 2 to3 minutes less than the allocated time to ensure that isn't any overruns.

What To Talk About?

The structure of a talk is flexible, but it should have the following components. You can list your background, motive, idea, results, interpretations and conclusions. In a good presentation, all of these items will be explained enough that the audience, can understand the nature of the talk.

The precise minimum level of knowledge you assume for your audience also depends on the setting. Naturally, keep your information broad for a broader audience and drill down for industry experts. Having this understanding will help you structure the content of your talk better and shows you clearly the areas you can summarize and elaborate.

Good Looks Matter

When it comes to the design of the visual elements of your talk, don’t make anything too fancy that distracts from your amazing message. Don’t just copy figures from other papers for their great visuals. Relevance is key here and your presentation should be a complementary tool to your speech. Just like the content on your speech, ensure that the facts and figures in your presentation is easy to digest. Make yourself comfortable with designing figures for your talk, particularly the visuals. For many speakers, creating and delivering figures is the most challenging aspect of designing for talks.

As far as slides go, it's a good practice to use the whole slide area to the fullest of your capabilities. Bear in mind the borders, icons, graphics and background that will take up the space of the slide. Remember to include margins for your content. Simplicity matters. In the end, your goal is to keep your presentation readable. That being the case, we see the importance of seeking to trim downslides as much as possible. Your slides are not meant for reading. They should help you highlight the focal points that you want to talk about.

Final Thoughts

To understand why an experience is remembered, you need to consider the peak-end rule. According to Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the pleasurable qualities of past experiences boils down to 2 specific things: 1)The experience of the peak 2)The experience of the end.  When you recall a pleasurable experience, how you feel when it is at its peak - best or worst -is the most critical factor. Euphoria or misery at the climax of an experience are what is remembered. In the nutshell, keep the end of your talk a memorable one. Do you want to be remembered for an amazing speech that ended with a bang? Or would you rather be the one that drones on and on with no end in sight? The choice is yours to make.

If you're planning to make a good impression with a superb presentation, be sure to get a good design done. Like we mentioned earlier, good looks matter. If you're struggling with that or need help summarizing your content, be sure to look for design professionals like Mad Creative Beanstalk to help  you elevate your presentation to the next level. Whether it's 2 minutes or 30 minutes, we can help you create a presentation that leaves a lasting impression.

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