Nail your Five Minute Speech

Earlier this week I had the challenge of nailing a Five Minute Speech.

This was within an amazing event called DisruptHR London. DisruptHR is a platform where HR professionals have the opportunity to challenge current HR practices.

The challenge for the speakers is that they ONLY have 5 minutes, and they have 20 slides which change every 15 seconds. So within that format, they need to make an impact with the audience to change current thought! Wow: what a challenge!


I was really keen to have the chance to speak at this event and pitched for a speaking slot. I was therefore delighted when I was chosen to be one of the speakers. The other speakers were all outstanding. My topic was “Stuff Marketing, find your authentic voice”.

The format was very interesting and one I was very keen to have the opportunity to try. We are used to doing ‘elevator speeches’, a one minute network speech, and public speaking, but the discipline of a 5 minute speech with the added stress of the slides changing every 15 seconds was something that would push me outside my comfort zone!! A great opportunity since I’m all for doing this. I have recorded a podcast about the whole experience. Listen here.


Another challenge for a speech of this length is the content and how to craft it. With a one minute ‘pitch’ you have a concise, energised message; a longer speech, you can go into detail, but in 5 minutes you don’t have time to do this, although there has to be enough content to maintain the audience’s interest. You can’t sustain the ‘high energy’ approach you could have for a one minute pitch, but need focus and clarity with both the content AND the delivery.

I go into more detail in the podcast, but here is a summary of how I approached the 5 minute speech:

  1. I had a very clear message – and only one message.
  2. A clear call to action at the end of the speech.
  3. Clear slides – they also gave me a cue if I got muddled or lost!
  4. The slides could provide variety of moods within the speech to create ‘light and shade’ with the delivery of your speech.
  5. I wrote a script and practised, practised, practised…. I really knew it.
  6. I then practised with the slides. This freaks you; believe me! But there no pain, no gain…
  7. I prepared myself physically and mentally before the speech

Listen to the podcast here.

I also gave myself permission to feel good about myself:

  1. No one knew what I was going to say, so if I made a mistake it was OKAY
  2. Every speaker was in the same position
  3. If you don’t synch the slides it won’t be a disaster
  4. Your best will be good enough
  5. You have something to say; people will be interested

This format of speeches is an interesting one.

More than one member of the audience said how refreshing this format was; there are cases when a specific speaker at a conference is not covering a topic you are interested in, or with respect, doesn’t engage an audience. Since all of the speeches are short, the topics and speakers change regularly, so the audience remains engaged. Perhaps we should ‘disrupt’ current structures of conferences and have more speakers, speaking for shorter periods of time!

Listen to the podcast here.

I am hugely grateful to Katrina Collier who co-ordinated this event. It was a fabulous event and I was very honoured to be part of it. And as one of the other speakers said “It’s addictive”!

The post Nail your Five Minute Speech appeared first on The Executive Voice Speaking Coach.

About the author

Susan Heaton Wright is a former opera singer who works with successful individuals and teams to make an impact with their voices and physical presence. Using her experience in using the voice and performing on stage, she works with people to improve their performances in a range of business situations; from meeting skills and on the telephone, to public speaking, presentations and appearing on the media.

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