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September 12, 2019

Succinct Success: How to Keep Your Presentation Short and Sweet

When thinking about putting your presentation together it’s vital to consider its length, as well as the content you’re aiming to include. Many times you may find yourself facing an issue of time allocation rather than how many slides long your presentation should be. Although conducting a 20-minute presentation does not sound very long-winded, sitting and listening intently as an audience for a prolonged amount of time can be hard for many. Guaranteed for the most part of your presentation, many of your audience members will be experiencing varying levels of focus whilst thinking about what they’re going to have for lunch later on. Because this is the case and our collective attention spans are not very long, a presentation that’s short and as succinct as possible works much better and allows points to be delivered and actioned.

Image Source: JazzFactory

As you can see, the infographic above identifies a few reasons why an audience might disconnect from a presentation, the first point of which focuses on its duration. Studies have shown that shorter presentations are typically more effective than their longer counterparts – while concise slides are thought to be more impressionable and bring in higher levels of attention compared to more verbose ones. It’s worth noting that while shorter presentations might sound more natural to construct, they actually require more time and skill. This is because you’re required to consider the wealth data you have, and pull out the most important, relevant and useful information that you think will help get your point across. Here are a few tips to get you on the way for a shorter, more smarter presentation:

1. Focus on a strong opener

The opening of your presentation is where your audience tries and figures out if they like your content enough to want to listen to what you have to say – almost like a first impression. Because this part of the presentation is so important, nailing your opener ensures that your audience is immediately immersed into your content from the beginning of your presentation, cutting out the small talk and getting tucked in straight away. This will allow you as the speaker to spend less time building credibility with your audience, and in some cases, there’s no need for an opening as you may be presenting to co-workers. 

Avoiding a long-winded opener can also save you precious time which may be better invested throughout the latter stages of your presentation. A strong opener for your presentation should carry a focus on grabbing attention and emotionally engaging your audience. By way of an example, it could be advantageous to use famous quotes or surprising statistics as an opener to keep your presentation memorable, and so your audience can get a feel for what your presentation is about. Using these tactics will help you gain credibility from your audience in a short matter of time.

2. Nail your transitions and use visuals

Using visuals can help reduce the time taken to explain points because your audience members will be able to extract information from the visuals at a much faster rate. Text can be much harder to digest for your audience, and the use of graphics will mean that they can digest harder to understand information – giving you more time at the back end of your presentation. Also trying to explain a point via text or elaborating further runs the risk of coming across more confusing for some. Ultimately, visuals can help you to express more complex issues in an easy to understand format.

Presenters are prone to wasting a lot of time during their transitions between slides, especially if they don’t know how to move on from one slide to another. One potential reason for this is because they tend to ramble on. Practicing your transitions between slides and points extensively will give you time and space during the presentation to take breaks and have breathers. Using online templates and tools to create your presentation will not only give you professional slides but will also save you time. This means you will be able to go over your presentation before doing it in order to establish a cohesive flow. Writing down each transition and manuscripting each portion of your presentation will give you the ability to share content and add value in an intriguing way – helping to make it more witty and engaging.

3. Hit your time

Setting a goal, and timing yourself based on how long your presentation should be will help you keep concise and to the point. When you get to your time limit its essential to make sure that you have given yourself enough room to explore your call to action that you want your audience to be prompted by. One of the best ways to ensure this happens smoothly is by creating a compelling story that leads to a CTA and sums up your entire presentation. This will allow your audience to hear your content, get excited about it and promote action.


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Peter Jobes – Tech, crypto & blockchain writer having worked with the Press Association and clients like Tesco, RAC and HelpUCover. CMO at Solvid.

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