The Art of the 5-Minute Presentation

Here’s a fact that might surprise you:

It’s way harder to make a strong and well thought-out point in 5 minutes, than it is in 10 or 15 minutes!

Makes sense, right? When you have less time to work with, everything you say and do has to serve a specific purpose so you’re making the most out of the few precious minutes you’re given.

  • Maybe you are in an office meeting or client call and want to contribute to the conversation without taking it over 
  • Maybe you’re a really nervous speaker who wants to get a point across, then stop talking as quickly as possible 
  • Maybe you find yourself in a networking event with a potential partner or investor, and you only have a few minutes to spark an interest
  • Or maybe you’re with friends & family and know you only have their attention for a few minutes before someone else (or a smartphone!) takes over the conversation

Whatever the case, here’s the good news:

People are more likely to like and remember what you say if you keep your presentation short, sweet and to the point.

Let’s dig into how:


Understand that the purpose of your presentation is NOT to prove how much you know. Instead, you should use the time to simply give your audience a high-level overview of your idea.

This becomes harder and harder the more you know about a subject. But stop and think – what does my audience absolutely need to know to understand the concept I want to get across?

You can’t go in-depth into anything in five minutes. And if that’s all the time you’ve been given, nobody is expecting anything more than a topline understanding of your points… So deliver exactly that!


Structure your presentation in a way that’s easiest for your audience to follow, digest, and remember. 

When you only have five minutes to work with, you need to move quickly through your presentation—and a way to ensure your audience is following along on every step is to have a clear start, meaty middle, and succinct end.

The formula I like to follow is:

  • Start with the WHAT – what is it that you’re discussing?
  • Fill the Middle with the SO WHAT – why is what you’re discussing important and what’s the relevance to your audience?
  • End with the NOW WHAT – what are the next steps you want your audience to take or do?

Added bonus: this sequential approach will not only help YOU remember what you want to say better, it will help YOUR AUDIENCE better remember your main points too!


Don’t use notes and don’t memorize.

Establishing a strong and genuine connection with your audience is a crucial step in having them trust you and be open to what you have to say. But guess what? Making this connection is near impossible if you’re reading off notes and not making eye contact with your audience… or if you’re so busy trying to remember the exact words/sentences you memorized that you’re not actually present in the room.

Instead, try to remember your flow from one point to the other because this will help you deliver your presentation in a comfortable and relaxed way, which in turn will come off as authentic and trustworthy to your audience.


If you mess up, keep going. Your audience doesn’t know what you don’t tell them – and that’s a beautiful thing you can use to your advantage!

Don’t waste your precious five minutes with apologies or acknowledgements of what you forgot to say or where you went off-script. Keep cool, calm and confident knowing that whatever you missed can be clarified at a later time, through email, or in the Q&A.


Practice, practice, practice! Because practice brings confidence and confidence calms the butterflies.

Getting nervous before a talk, when everyone’s attention is going to be on you, is a perfectly normal feeling. And the anxiety is something that can be overcome with good, consistent practice—especially when short presentations are involved and there isn’t much wiggle room to work with.

So go ahead and practice out loud, record yourself so you can review your performance after, and ask a friend or colleague for their input. The more you prepare for the limelight, the more comfortable and natural you’ll be in it.

And there you have it! A quick guide to mastering the short and sweet presentation without foregoing content or message impact. 


Happy presenting!