How to plan a 10 minute presentation

presentationGiving a short presentation is a fairly typical thing to do in most organisations, so being able to quickly create a presentation and confidently present to a small audience is a really useful skill. You do not need to be ‘a natural’ you just need to prepare in a simple and structured way.  I have used this method with a number of groups, and it should give you a good start into finding what style suits you best.

It helps to divide your presentation time up into what feels right for an audience. A good place to start is a 2:3:1 ratio, so for a 10 minute presentation:

  • Introduction – 3 min
  • Main points, maybe in 2 sections of 5 bullet points each – 6 min
  • Summary and conclusion – 1 min

These times do not have to be fixed, they are just a guide. First define the aim of you presentation: What do your audience want? Should you concentrate on a recommendation? A summary of team activity? Research findings? Once you have decided you can write your introduction.  Be clear about the subject of your presentation, and the aim. Remind yourself about these as you plan the rest of your presentation to keep your plan on topic and relevant for your audience.

Planning your presentation

Identify your main themes and write them as bullet points. Two sections with three to five bullet points in each is fine for a presentation of this length. These main points should outline the key facts, findings, and activities.

For your summary take your main points and try to find an overall result that ties the main points together. The conclusion is your appraisal of the project or research, and give the reasons for this conclusion.

You need to know your content, but to prompt yourself you should create some speaker notes. These are to help you keep on track as you present to your audience to make sure you don’t forget anything or get lost with your presentation; they should not be new content, just a reminder. Some people like cards, but I would put everything on one side of A4. Write everything out in sections with short but meaningful bullet points. Remember your speaker notes are not a script, so don’t just read out these notes to your audience. This is another good reason to use bullet points; to stop the temptation to say exactly what you have written.

You can add some extra detail to your speaker notes. If some of the people in the room don’t know you, then write out a short introduction for yourself. Write out the first sentence of your presentation in full so you have an easy start, and write out a snappy conclusion sentence to end with.

To support your presentation, you can have some graphics, or usually slides, to illustrate your main points. For a 10 minute presentation, three or four slides for your main points and one for your summary and one for your conclusion is plenty. If you have lots of slides, and therefore lots of quick changes, it can be more confusing than helpful. Remember slides are not your speaking notes; they are for your audience. When you have completed your slides or graphics check them for typos! I can’t stress this enough, as obvious mistakes can be very distracting for an audience. Add the slide changes too your speaker notes at the appropriate times to change.


Now practice. You should do your presentation in full and out loud at the very least three times until you are happy with it. Even if there is no-one to present to, you still need to do your practice runs out loud as it will help you identify any difficult areas. Add in to your speaker notes more detail for any bits you often stumble on or anything particularly complicated. You will also be able to check your timing and see if your material fits as expected.

After this practice you should now feel much more confident that your presentation can be delivered well. A few things to remember when you do the real presentation:


Slides are for the audience, they are not speaker notes. Try to look at the audience, rather than join in with your audience and look at the screen.

  • Don’t apologise for things, just go through your presentation as practised, and if you miss anything decide whether it needs including or you can just leave it out.
  • Try not to rush, doing it to quickly will make you more prone to missing bits or not explaining things fully.
  • At the very end, thank people for their time and ask if there are any questions. You can have a back-up of longer notes available which may be useful for answering questions.
  • Don’t feel tripped up by questions, or pushed into guessing. If a member of the audience asks something you don’t know or hadn’t considered, say you will have to check and will contact them later.

Good luck! If you want to prioritise what you do, the practice of actually presenting out loud is essential, and while you plan keep reminding yourself about what your audience really wants know.

A good example of presenting and the use of slides is David Epstein’s TED talk:

Notice how little text he uses in his slides, mainly just images.

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