Give a 5-Minute Presentation

How to Give a Five-Minute Technical Presentation

Presented by: Carey Rappaport, Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering & Associate Director Gordon-CenSSIS, Northeastern University

When creating a five minute presentation, plan to present a slide per minute. The five slides, in order, include a Title/Author/Affiliation slide, an Outline slide, a Problem Description/Motivation slide, a Proposed Approach/Alternative slide, and a Summary/Conclusion slide.

The title slide names your presentation. Post the title at the top of the slide, followed by your name and the affiliation of the presentation. Next, compose your outline slide.

The outline slide should include, in a numbered list, the titles of each five slides respective to your specific presentation.

The problem or description slide is where the core content of the presentation starts. Your goal is the effective transfer of information in a limited amount of time, five minutes.

Make sure the audience is guided.
Each slide should contain a title and clearly define text by using bullets.

The audience must be entertained.
Utilize dark backgrounds to make text easier to read (be mindful that if printing a presentation, this will use larger quantities of ink). The font should be as big as possible, utilizing the entire space allowed by each slide, given the content. Make sure to avoid using too many colors, poor contrasts, and bad fonts. Abbreviate when possible to allow space for more content, but be sure to define abbreviations when presenting. Animation is effective when slides are long to keep audience engaged or present additional content. Try using pictures instead of words to get your point across.

The proposed approach/alternatives slide is intended for technical talk. Explain why the problem is important, difficult, interesting and worth doing. In doing so, mention your previous approaches with the advantages and difficulties you encountered. Then, present your best solution plan and provide a testing metric to evaluate. Be sure to include alternatives in case the main plan fails. Also discuss the supplemental materials such as the schedule, budget, personnel, and contractual issues. To convey your problem effectively, defer specific details for a longer presentation and minimize your use of equations.

The summary slide identifies the solution and ends your presentation. Repeat and reinforce your main points clearly and succinctly. Stress your contributions using the slide orientation and pictorial display if possible. Suggest action items, making these slides available and easily accessible for students to give talks.

And finally, keep it within the five minute time limit.

Further reading: Mastering the Art of the Five Minute Presentation From Darrell Zahorsky, former Guide