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Ask For Five Minutes

December 13, 2017 fm

But Florian, in our company we don’t really have public speaking situations. We rather sit around a table and discuss topics using handout presentations.

True. If you are not an agile organization yet, this is the way business people do business. Imagine you are to give an update on the implementation of your marketing strategy. You have just begun to talk, when the CEO interrupts you and insists on jumping directly to page number 13. In a split second your flow is broken like a puberty heart.

Persuasive presentations need to flow like a mountain creek – from the wondrous well to the roaring river. Dams – like interruptions by the CEO – break the structural persuasive flow. Damn dams!

How can you avoid those dams?

Next time you are about to enter such a business-meeting situation with endless and unstructured and jumping discussions about your marketing strategy, do it differently.

At the beginning of the meeting, ask for a five-minute slot to present your ideas first. Even better, ask the meeting coordinator to add a five-minute slot to the agenda. When the meeting starts, politely insist on your initial slot. When everyone, including the CEO, has agreed on your slot, stand up (super important!) and give your five-minute persuasive presentation. If you use PowerPoint, create a second slide deck, a slide deck that doesn’t replace your speech, but complements it.

Without dams that mountain creek can flow smoothly. Once you sit down after five minutes, you will feel the difference: from endless and unstructured and jumping discussions to a more constructive conversation based on the robust arguments you built in your presentation.

Next time ask for five minutes. It’s worth a try.

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Photo by Phil Houston

Comments (3)

  1. I’ve faced the same sentence a couple of times. I use to reply with a quote from Ghandi adapted to corporations: “Be the change you want to see in your company.”
    It’s all about daring.

    Though I liked that specific suggestion of asking for a 5 minutes slot. I’ll definitely give it a try!

  2. Thanks, for sharing. Is there also a best practice structure for a 5 minute presentation, e.g. 5-10 slides, contents?
    Keep it up!

    • fm

      I differentiate between handout slides (for reading) and screen slides (for presenting). When you use screen slides – full screen images, big graphs, huge pie charts, slogan-style wording, single words and numbers, … – there is no rule for the number of slides. You can have 20 slides in 5 minutes and it doesn’t feel like it’s too much. On another note, I always ask myself: Do I need slides at all? 😉

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