Do Presentations Have to Be 60 Minutes Long?

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While discussing typical lengths of various types of presentations during a course recently, I got the question whether it actually makes sense to do a 60 minute presentation on any topic.

That's a great question, well worth considering. Why do traditional conferences still insist on reserving 60-minute slots for presentations?

Chris Anderson on TED's secret for a great talk

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What makes a TED talk special? Is it the use of spectacular props or the masterful delivery? These are the sorts of questions that I have been asked - somewhat anxiously - recently.

TED's motto should give you a hint. It reads "ideas worth spreading". For TED, the idea is at the heart of a TED talk; all else follows from it.

Chris Anderson, curator and organiser of TED, explains this in more depth in a video titled "TED's secret to great public speaking". Before you read on, I encourage you to watch it. It's only 8 minutes long and embedded below:

Using Props in Presentations - Can You Overdo It?

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Props are great to liven up a presentation and make things more tangible for your audience; even if they can't actually touch the props you bring. If you are doing a product introduction or demo of sorts, I strongly recommend to bring your product with you, if it fits on the stage somehow. Seeing a real person interacting with it, holding it, or simply standing next to it (if it's really big) will give your audience a much better idea of the size and use than any product photo on a slide could do. So if the goal of your presentation is to introduce and eventually sell a product, this should be a no-brainer.

If you still need convincing, watch Steve Jobs introduce the MacBook Air (remember the manila envelope?) or, a personal favourite of mine, the iPod nano: Ever wondered what this pocket is for?

Why Lawyers Can Get Away with Bad Slides

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It's not really a statistically relevant sample, but over the years, I've seen quite a few lawyers speak. And I have to say that pretty much all of them are still using text-heavy slides and not a lot of visuals. Yet at the same time, these talks are often pretty good; they're informative and even entertaining. Why is that so?