You have to make a major presentation, and suddenly you're asked if you can get your message across in five minutes! Don't panic. For today's television generation, sound bites can be more powerful than lengthy dissertations. Here's how to compress your speech without losing impact.

  1. Don't apologize or mention that you usually have much more time. Be confident that you can communicate in five minutes.
  2. Begin fast. Start with an attention-getting statement such as, "Your job won't exist five years from now," or "In the next five minutes I want to convince you that the best action you can take is..."
  3. Use a strongly visual story. Illustrate your points -- how it is now, how it will or could be -- with a story so vivid that the audience can "see" it.
  4. Divide your five minutes into three parts. Present a problem, a payoff, and your point of view. This will make your short presentation a complete thought. Think about what you uniquely have to say in five minutes that will entice the audience to listen, and punctuate your speech with your point of view: "The #1 piece of advice I can give you today is..."

Patricia Fripp is a San Francisco-based executive speech coach and professional speaker on change, teamwork, customer service, promoting business, and communication skills. She is the author of Make It, So You Don't Have to Fake It and Get What You Want! Fripp also served as a president of the National Speakers Association. She can be contacted via e-mail, at 800-634-3035, or through her Web site

Copyright © 2000 Patricia Fripp