A 15 Minute Guide : How to Create a Conference Presentation

A 15 Minute Guide : How to Create a Conference Presentation post image

I have only recently started speaking at conferences. In the beginning, I was terrified to do so (I even turned down gigs). I had a hard time understanding how my ideas could be turned into presentations that were useful and entertaining.

When I Googled things like “how to make a great presentation” I would find a lot of great advice, but most of it was too high level. Tips on how to improve your body language and slide design were cool, but for more advanced presenters.

What I needed was someone to say: here’s 20 slides, and here’s what you should put on them.

I couldn’t find much, so I created a framework and used it for a few recent talks. It worked great so I figured I’d share it.

The basic philosophy: get your first draft done quickly and improve from there. One of our first talks took us 2 weeks to complete (that experience kept us from speaking more).

The goal of this video is to help you complete your first draft in less than 2 hours.

I didn’t put much polish on this presentation because I wanted to show you what a first draft could look like. My goal is to get you to useful and interesting quickly.

If you are reading this post in a reader or email, you can click here to see the 15:00 video.

Get started now!

Download the template!

The 16 slides used in this format:

  1. Title slide.
  2. What are we going to learn?
  3. Why you should listen to me.
  4. The specific takeaways you’ll get.
  5. The problem.
  6. The solution.
  7. The before and after.
  8. Before solution story or case study #1.
  9. After solution story or case study #2.
  10. Before solution story or case study #1.
  11. After solution story or case study #2.
  12. Before solution story or case study #3.
  13. After solution story or case study #3.
  14. Mistakes people commonly make implementing the solution (and how to avoid them).
  15. What you can do to take action now.
  16. Question and answer session slide.

Quick tips:

  1. Try to draw your principles from real stories. Use specific data, anecdotes, or screenshots to back up your stories.
  2. Have a decent slide velocity. Shoot for 2 slides a minute minimum.
  3. (In many cases) the more you prepare for your talk, the less words will be on your slides. I find the longer I work my deck, the more the words melt away.
  4. Considering sharing where you messed up and what you realized when doing so. It helps audiences relate to your successes and see their own path to similar results.
  5. Create paths of action at the end of your talk for people who want to do something with your ideas.

Other resources:

Great talks:

I’d love to hear alternative formats, improvements on this one, your presentations, or any other resources you have on the topic!




Published on 11.19.13
  • Missing a space ship launch video + fog machine!

  • Karl de Leon

    How about the Bruce Lee vid?

  • Wow this is great! Thanks Dan!

  • Bryan Luoma

    Perfect timing.. I’ve decided to add some webinar content for my business and have had a little difficulty getting past go. I think I just found my starting point!

  • Steven Tran

    Great Post and Video Dan, have you just started using video? You should do more. This content can probably be sold as a product or used as part of a pre-sales funnel, it’s that valuable. Good Job Dan! :)

  • TJ Nelson

    Just started making a 6 week long video course. This already helped me with my intro for my first week. Having a framework saved me from sitting there stressing how to properly start the program and instead I focused on what content I should say. Thank you very much Dan! (and if anyone knows a framework similar for making an entire course, let me know!)

  • Ian

    Yeah Dan.. What Steven said… do more videos. :)

  • Dan

    SHIT! Totally forgot :)

  • Dan

    Haha good point, I just should toss one slide in there with the graphics / video all ready to go. NAME ME ONE PRESENTATION that does not benefit from this? :)

  • Dan

    Hey TJ that’s great news man!!! Please ping me when you’ve finished it off, excited to see what you come up with. You posts have been really strong!

  • Dan

    Steven man now you got the bossman on my case ! :D

    Appreciate that, I’d like to collaborate with a video editor to do some cool stuff and perhaps in 2014 we’ll roll some stuff out.

  • Dan

    Rock on Bryan hope it works out for you.

  • Dan

    Thanks Brian appreciate that … hope it helps.

  • Hi Dan, I just bought a one way ticket to Thailand and I am moving to Chiang Mai next month! Its a bummer that I missed the DC event in Oct, I am not sure where you guys are located but do you guys do regular meetups? If so, where and when? and where is the next event going to be in April? Thanks and maybe I will see you around!

  • The rubik’s cube analogy was awesome. I mean the presentation advice was very helpful, but the rubik’s cube is how I will explain the way my brain works for now on. Maybe one day, I’ll solve it. haha

  • Dan

    :D haha

  • Becca Niederkrom

    This is great Dan, I present a ton offline and always picking up tips whenever possible. I sometimes leave out the twitter handle as the average age of my attendee is about 80. On the #2, I put the “what we are going to learn” into a journey map, a big fat S curve with points of interest along the way to show them our journey together. I end with Q&A but also add in a slide on further sources, books, blogs etc on the topic

  • Dan

    Like the further resources + journey idea ! That’s great thanks.

  • Terri Munro

    Just watched this and wrote my lunch and learn draft in ~2 hours! Thanks TMBA for helping me look like a rockstar at work!

  • Dan

    Sweeeet!!!! rock on thanks for putting it into action.

  • Jonathan

    Amazing – when your content is not useful and fun, it’s super useful.
    Hope someday I’ll use that at your DCBKK conference ;)

  • :D thanks !!!

  • Corinne Campbell

    Thanks for this Dan. A really simple framework that makes a lot of sense. I appreciate you sharing it with us.

  • thanks it was my pleasure

  • Seán Feehan

    Great nuggets in here. Like folk before me the rubik cube analogy is great and the template is like a ready made jig saw puzzle

  • Good to hear it’s useful

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