How to Create a Great Presentation in Just 15 Minutes

How to Create a Great Presentation in Just 15 Minutes

Did you know that the highest paid profession in America is professional speaking? Speakers can earn between $5,000 and $10,000 for a 20 minute keynote presentation.

It’s the reason why great entrepreneurs know how to get up and share their message.  They indirectly get “paid” by moving employees, partners and communities to engage with their business in a way that goes far beyond the financial upside.

Some of the best, like Mark Zuckerberg (Founder/CEO of Facebook), go even further and learn other languages, so they can share in a more authentic way.

If you can master – or at least be mediocre – at speaking, it will open up the world to you. I’ve been paid to fly around the world sharing stories of lessons learned with amazing entrepreneurial communities.

Exclusive Bonus: Download the free step by step guide (PDF) on how to create a 15 minute presentation.

What I’ve covered below is my approach to creating a great presentation in 15 minutes. Yes, that sounds ridiculous – but it’s true. I can sit down with a piece of paper, write out the structure outlined below and insert the missing elements to be able to get up and speak for 20-60 minutes without skipping a beat and feeling confident in delivering the value to my audience.

It’s taken me years of practice and training to get mediocre at best, but I felt my approach was something worth sharing as I often get asked to help others with their presentations. I would love nothing more than to see more entrepreneurs share their story and lessons learned with a global audience.

Overview of sections below:

Highlevel Outline: How I create my presentations following a system I’ve created and adapted over the years. It’s a simple way to ensure you don’t forget anything major and provides a framework to quickly create your next presentation.

Slide Creation: My approach to creating slides. I borrow a lot of the design sensibility from an old friend, Daniel Burka. 5 years ago, I watched him give a talk and I was so impressed with how visually stunning his slides were, but also in their simplicity.

Highlevel Outline

Here’s a quick overview of the framework I use, inspired by T. Harv Eker, to give a talk:

  1. Title of Talk
  2. Opener
  3. Edify
  4. WIIFM
  5. ETR
  6. Teaching(s)
  7. Closing

1. Title of Talk

Creating a catchy title can feel overwhelming, but there’s a simple trick based on decades of research and it’s super scientific. Just use magazine covers. Search online for a magazine in your industry and put the words, “Magazine Cover” after it. (ex: Forbes Magazine Cover). You’ll see 100’s of examples of article headlines designed to capture someones attention. Use them for inspiration and tweak for your own needs.

2. Opener

The best way to open is to state your name and the title of the talk. It’s simple and gets things rolling. If you want to be fancy, you can do a bunch of other things here, it’s your call.

Tell a Story: This is one of my favourite ways to open. If you have a funny story about the city, venue or organizers, tell it. Keep it short – but funny – and if possible, relevant to the topic.

Ask a Question: You’ve probably seen people do this. They ask, “How are you doing?” or “How many of you …?” – either approach is fine and it gets the audience interacting early in your talk to set the mood and to gain audience participation.

3. Edify

One of the perfect way to engage the audience is to thank them. Doing this will leave them feeling a sense of respect for you because you appreciated them. There are 2 groups you’ll want to thank, and in this order:

Attendees: Thank them for coming, for their time and participation over the allotted time.

Organizers: Get the name of the organizers and a few major sponsors. Thank them and then ask everyone to give em’ a big round of applause.

4. What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM)

No one goes to an event for the speaker, they go for themselves. Tell them what they’ll get out of your talk. This is referred to as “WIIFM,” or “What’s In It For Me?”, asked from the attendees point of view. If you don’t tell them, you may lose them.

5. Earn The Right (ETR)

Why are you on stage? Why should anyone listen to you? Be sure to share those reasons at the beginning of your talk or the audience will be sitting there wondering what makes you qualified to even be there. I NEVER assume anyone knows who I am, what I’ve accomplished or the reason I was asked to speak. Tell them.

Tell Your Own Bio: It’s the reason I don’t like having someone else read my bio before I get up.

Share Your Accomplishments: Inline with the topic of your talk, what have you accomplished? Brag a bit. Tell them.

Share Your “Why”: Why are you on stage? What’s your purpose in life? How is that coming along?

6. Teaching(s)

This is the meat of your talk. It can be as simple as a story, or a series of lessons learned. Regardless of how long you have to talk, each learning is a story and usually lasts about 10 minutes.

The optimum way to fill an hour talk is to break things up into 10 minute stories or 10 minute teachings. It makes approaching a big presentation so much more doable. If you follow the structure below with the opening, story and ending – then you can just toss out all the topic teachings (ie. topics) you want to cover up front.

For each teaching: decide on the best way to frame it, the story you feel demonstrates the lesson the best and how you want to end.

Here’s the format I use to accomplish this:


This is usually the point you want to talk about – the  lesson learned, trend or belief that you would like to teach. If you have any powerful statistics or examples to reinforce this, then lead with that. One of my favorite openings I’ve heard recently came from an HR startup at a pitch competition:

“People don’t quit their companies. They quit their boss.”


An excellent way to teach something is by telling a story. I personally like to share stories about my experiences that help reinforce the topic.

There’s been a lot written on the format of stories, but the key in my mind is this: The more vulnerable the story, the more universal the appeal.

Regardless of the topic, everyone likes a good story, so don’t bore your audience with facts & figures, instead, weave that information into a relevant story. Remember, “Facts tell… Stories sell.”


This is where many speakers mess up a great story. They don’t bring the story to a resolution, or explain how the lesson they learned helped them achieve or avoid a similar fate in the future.

I used to be horrible at this. I would always forget to “end” my story. You quickly learn this by the types of questions you’re asked after your talk. If you get the “What happened with the company afterwards?”, or “Did you ever figure out a way to avoid that…”, etc.. Then you’ll know you didn’t end or resolve the story properly. It only takes a few seconds, but it will help the audience stay engaged.

7. Closing

At the end of my talks, I always like to quickly go over the topics I covered, then end with either a “Call to Action” or a “Call to Purpose.”

Call To Action: This is some type of action I would like the audience to take. Most of the time I give them a URL to download links so I can collect their email and build a relationship. It’s also a great way to judge how well you did based on the % of the audience that were motivated to do so. The better your talk, the higher the conversion to email.

Call to Purpose: If the purpose of my talk was more inspirational than teaching, I’ll end with a call to purpose. This is more of an “ask” to the audience to live their life with purpose. I’ve sometimes asked, “Will you make me a commitment to have no small plans?”, or borrowed from my friend Clay, “I have no doubt you’ll all be successful, but will you matter?”

Both questions are designed to summarize the essence of the talk and leave the audience with a question that will connect them through emotion to the topics covered. It’s like planting a trigger to help connect with the audience.

TIP: The First 7 Minutes: The best way to reduce the stress you might be having for an upcoming talk is to practice and perfect the first 7 minutes. That’s all you need.

If you’ve practiced the opening, all the other elements written above, and maybe the first topic, you’ll be fine. Remember, you’re human, you already know how to tell a story so the key is to remember how you begin and end. The middle will fill itself in.

Creating Your Slides

The best slides are no slides. If you’re an amazing story teller then you should be able to get away with no slides. I’m not there, yet. So in lieu of that, I continuously reduce the amount of information on a slide as well as the total number of slides in my presentation.

Currently, I have the following slides for my talks:

  • Title of Talk
  • Earn The Right
  • Teaching #1
  • Closing

Title slide: This is the first slide which has a strong image with the title of my talk, my Twitter handle and the hashtag for the talk or event.

Ex: Opening Slide for Startup Edmonton Talk
Ex: Opening Slide for Startup Edmonton Talk

Earn The Right (Your Story): This is a slide with a picture that represents who I am and allows me to cover the Earn The Right (ETR) part of my talk.

Screenshot 2014-10-29 12.16.46(2)

Teaching(s): This slide has the topic I want to cover, relevant image and that’s it. I repeat this format for every 10 minute story I plan to share.

Screenshot 2014-10-29 12.16.46

In the past, I would do 4 slides per teaching: teaching title, opener, story and closing. The format didn’t change though, typically a big image with or without a word.

Closing: Last slide is my thank you slide + some kind of call to action, or call to purpose. It usually includes my Twitter handle, the hashtag for the event and maybe a URL if I want them to visit a website and take action. It’s the slide I leave up when I’m doing Q&A with the audience.

Screenshot 2014-10-29 12.21.26


When you get on stage and you teach from the heart everyone will notice – and then it has nothing to do with structure – because at a human level, we all just want to connect.

Share your stories. Share your passions. Teach others what you’ve learned. You’ll always get way more out of it than you put into it.

Have you ever been scared to give a talk? How did you overcome it? Was it as bad as you thought it would be? Leave a comment below as I’d love to learn more!

  • Tommy Lebel

    Wow thanks for sharing this very valuable content! I will put that to use for sure.

    To answer your question, yes I’ve already been scared to give talks. I guess I’m not the only one: some surveys found the fear of public speaking to be greater than the fear of death!

    This said, I overcame it thanks to Toastmasters. I’m part of a very experienced club in Montreal that allowed me to improve quite a lot in a rather short amount of time. My advice – borrowed from Lewis Howes who used Toastmasters to learn the ropes of public speaking – to anyone wanting to use Toastmasters is to shop your club before settling. Find the best fit for you objectives, don’t hesitate to question members of the clubs you visit. The best club for you should not primarily be defined by its distance to your home!

    PS: I will share this blog post with my club’s members 🙂

    • Dan Martell


      Big fan of Toastmasters … even though I’ve never been, I have a lot of friends who have and it’s a great way to get over the initial fright.

      Thanks for the comment!


  • Guest

    This was excellent. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dan Martell



  • mandywintink

    This is great. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dan Martell

      Mandy, my pleasure .. here to serve.



  • Vinish Garg

    Some really useful directions there, thanks for sharing these.

    • Dan Martell

      Vinish, my pleasure!


  • Allan Isfan


    Awesome summary and timely given that I’m speaking 6 times in the next month. Going to change some things based in this!

    would like to add one more possibly controversial element, especially if you want to eventually keynote: ENTERTAIN

    The most memorable presentations I’ve seen have an element of entertainment and comedy. Scott at UNMARKETING does an amazing job at this. How can you forget “QR Codes Kill Kittens”?

    Finally to add “stickiness”, measure your preso against the SUCCES acronym from the amazing book “Made to Stick”.

    More on that here:

    • Dan Martell


      Totally agree … people want to be Entertained & Educated. It’s almost like the gateway drug to learning is entertainment.

      Love that.

      Scott (Unmarketing) is a great … swear he could’ve had a profession as a stand up comedian 🙂

      Appreciate the comment!


    • Dan Martell

      Totally agree, although I feel that would be asking alot in a first time presentation… but I do agree.

      Laughter is the biggest sign that the audience is listening. 🙂


  • Soley Soucie

    Thanks for sharing Dan!

    • Dan Martell

      Soley, thanks for the comment!

      If there’s anything that’s not clear.. let me know .. I plan on updating this post as I get feedback and learn better ways to structure it.

      Consider it a living blog post if you will.



  • oneillbp

    Thanks for sharing your method, good tips for sure! One question: What’s your advice for photos? Where do you obtain them (looks like Twitter)? How do you make sure to give proper credit and not break any copyrights?

    • Dan Martell

      Great questions.

      I use and search for creative commons images and give credit in the bottom right corner of each image.


  • Chris Spurvey

    Excellent post Dan! Well thought out. You should write a post on how to effectively write a blog post! 🙂 You nailed this one. I look forward to your additions. When and where are you speaking again?

    • Dan Martell

      Thanks Chris… this one took a few weeks … I just kept writting then had to edit it into functional sections.

      The truth is .. my blogging approach is no different then starting a company ( I just write, publish, and fix out in the wild … usually 2 hours after I publish it’s kind of done.

      I’ve got help though … a bunch of great readers email me typos, suggestions, etc.

      Nothing fancy other then write like I would talk, publish, then iterate like mad till it’s legible.

      …. alright, maybe I’ll write a post on this, might be some nuggets for people 🙂

      Next 3 months is pretty busy re: speaking (decided to work on a new talk and wanted as much stage time to practice) .. so in Toronto next week, then Fredericton @ UNB, etc.

      All talks are recorded and put online, so you can just search me on YouTube

      And if you really want more “Dan Martell” .. here’s a list of all my podcast interviews. 🙂*%2Fpodcast+dan+martell

      Thanks for the comment and inspiration for a future post.


      • jostrf

        Great Article. I like your strategy. Enjoyed reading it.

  • CK

    Great summary on key points of an engaging presentation! Many of my presentations are regarding product specs, which can be boring…. so I always start with a joke/funny story to get the audience’s attention and get them engaged.

    One year, my product was new to the space and I was to present (the conference was all our our company’s customers in the wireless space) and the audience had just sat through a mundane (existing) product update that entailed 60+ slides! When I got onto the stage I told the audience how excited I was to be able to present this year and when I got the call, the first think I did was to create ONLY 40 slides. The audience got quiet and just stared at me, that’s when I said “just kidding, I have 8 slides and some exciting updates to share”. Everyone laughed and the engagement from the audience (150+ people) was amazing.

    • Dan Martell

      CK, that’s awesome.

      People (including myself) hate watching someone just present what I could’ve read myself.

      I believe speakers/presenters need to respect the audience and do on to them, as we would want done onto us …. that’s why I love stories so much.

      There’s a saying in startup pitching that goes “Show, don’t tell”… I use this to think through how I can show using a story, versus telling straight out.

      It’s just a more engaging way to share the time with the audience.

      Thanks for the story and comment!


    • alvin

      this will help

  • Özge başak

    Thanks for the great article. i really appreciate it. I have been making research on the internet for a very long time and now come up with something useful. it will be a great guide for my thesis here:

  • vishal goela
  • Pete

    Great post. I wish I’d read this 2 weeks ago. 🙂 This structure will certainly help me in the future. Thanks for sharing!

  • BBakeca

    Great post! Very useful! Thank you!

  • James Davis
  • docwakes

    Great article Dan! Wondering, best places to procure slides?

    • Dan Martell

      If by slides you mean images … I use and give credit on the slide in the bottom right corner.

      Search for Creative Common images.

      Hope that helps.

  • UberOnTime

    One of the best reads in a while. I have dedicated my life in starting a company that helps others; businesses and individuals. With this mission, jobs can be created and logistics can be made easier for local businesses who want to put their products in the hands of customers the same day. This days all way need is a reliable way to grow our business without breaking the bank and OnDemand Postman courier does just that for locals.

    • alvin

      Good ideal

  • Hasan
  • Matt (Mr. Cash At Hand)

    This made perfect sense, thanks for sharing with us!

    • Dan Martell

      Glad you enjoyed Matt

    • alvin

      that right

  • Finding Happy

    Fantastic article. To the point and very informative. I agree with adding “humor” as everyone wants to be entertained and the more engaged the audience is, the more they retain.

    • Dan Martell

      Totally. entertainment comes in many forms but that’s #1.


  • Amresh

    superb article and well described ….

    • Dan Martell

      Thx amresh!

    • Dan Martell



    • alvin

      I think so to

  • Oyundoyin Anthony

    Thanks for sharing this post,it really helpful.

  • Lin Ronald

    Well done! It makes it all very achievable for first timers like me. Thanks.

    • Dan Martell

      Lin, absolutely my pleasure.

  • Finn Jackson

    A good list, thanks. But edify doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  • Poopdeck

    I like it when speakers skip straight to #4 and start from there.

    • Dan Martell

      You may like it but the first 3 bullets are required for 70% of the crowd. Again, it takes 3 minutes to cover these and really sets up the talk to be amazing.

  • Rakhi Mohite

    I think it’s very helpful article to everyone! nice said……….

  • Mega Thingz

    Like cool toys and geeky gifts? Check out! Give us a like, share or follow!

  • Kumar Linkers

    this is nice posting

  • Jay B

    Every time I give a talk, I walk off the stage saying to myself, “I wish I could run that back one more time.” Any advice?

    • Dan Martell

      Give more talks, and give the same one over and over … that way you do get a chance to do it again.

      I only every give 2 talks in a year .. so I can give it 100%.

      Custom talks is tough and a huge time commitment.

  • alvin

    Think you so much

  • zarnain ali

    First Of All… i realy realy thankful to you ….. thats awesome article . i have been searching for long time . but now found it there. this made perfect sense

  • Aquila1769

    Very useful tips. Thanks

  • Charles Bohannan

    Good stuff, Dan. This blog post “found” me, as I happen to be considering my first public speaking gig in a few months. I’m terrified but want to challenge myself, and your advice is approachable. By the way, remember me from Getaround? You came in a few times to talk to Sam, Jessica and me about growth hacking.

  • MatthewD

    Thanks for doing this. It highlights the need for professionals to learn the art of presentations. To be honest your article only touched the surface. Where’s the attention grabber? telling someone the title of my talk could be dull as dish water.

    Overtly sharing your bio can actually threaten credibility and it’s important to connect using alsorts of techniques. Like the 5 senses or the power of the pause. Thanks for bringing the topic up though. It’s what I coach everyday and love The topic.

  • Grethe Sagevik

    Thanks for sharing! Simple summary – and good points to think about when preparing my next Lesson Learned presentation!

  • sheldan

    I have a presentation coming up and i am really nervous, thanks to your article i think it will help things go a little smoother, even if i mess up a little. Thank you

    • Dan Martell

      My pleasure!

  • Nikhil Jaroli

    Quite good list of #HowToStartAPresentation. I’ll definitely follow this nxt time. Thanks @DanMartell

  • Neil Hartman

    Dan thanks for your clear outline on how to give a good speech. In business I know how important it is to motivate the troops with a good speech. And I agree with the comments about injecting humor into the speech to add entertainment value and keep your audiences’ attention. I thought I was pretty good at it until I read your posts and now I have some good ideas on how to improve, thanks for that. Do you have any tips on how one can become a professional speaker?

    All the best!

    • Dan Martell

      Neil, thanks.

      Unfortunately, I’m not a professional speaker so wouldn’t be able to help there… but I know and his stuff is great. Best to checkout his site.

      All the best.


  • fauziasaleem

    i like it this from .

  • Brian Kim

    Twice I have had an attendee be openly abusive about my qualifications to give a presentation on topic. What is the best way to deal with this situation?

    • Steve Whitney

      Acknowledge the question, don’t ignore it. Then position that knowledge, insight and inspiration often come from unexpected places. Often, the significant ah-ha moments in life come not from those “experts” that we surround ourselves with, but when we start connecting the dots among seemingly unrelated sources. To that end, YOU bring a different perspective to the heckler and perhaps they may learn something. Isn’t that opportunity to learn and grow worth 20 minutes of their time?

  • Fitzgerald Brudey

    Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading it and intend to use some of your strategies when appropriate, even on my websites.

  • classify

    one of the recent best articles, Excellent Job Da, Thumbs UP

  • Autumn

    #ONEnvirothon coming up, a presentation is the main part of the competition. Thank you for the inspiration Mr. Martell!!

  • Abdulwahhab

    Thank you Dan, I don’t do much of speaking, but from time to time I had to.
    I thought before this that I am a good speaker.
    After reading this article I realized how lousy speaker I am.
    I do some interaction with the audience, but because my subjects had too many data to present I had to make more slides in the presentation.
    One of the things than I had not used is social media to follow up with the subject of the presentation.
    I believe my next presentation will be totally different.

  • Justin Beere

    Ok I couldn’t get past the first sentence: public speaking is most definitely not the highest paid profession in America. If you’re earning $10K per 20 minutes, and your speaking schedule is so packed that you’re speaking 8 hours per day, that means you’re making $1.2M per week. Annually, you’re pulling in $62.4M.

    In Forbes’ list of the 24 highest paid hedge fund managers, Avenue Capital’s Marc Lasry came in last. He makes about $280M per year.

    • nii hih


  • Dara Lin

    Great as a listener, First impression is important with a great title and the opening you can catch audience’s attention.

    • Dan Martell


  • Richard Boon
  • Ismael Rodríguez

    Well done, Dan! Very useful. The key here is what you said at the end, I think: “teach from the heart and everyone will notice”. So passionate they can’t ignore you. Thank you for this great post!

    • Dan Martell




  • Hotman Sihombing

    very useful

    • Dan Martell



  • Mark Lindsay Rutter

    Thanks. This will be really helpful as I work up a knock -out presentation for our ed-tech conference. Mucho gracias Dan.

    • Dan Martell

      Absolutely my pleasure Mark!


  • Billgreen54

    Great stuff. I do a free English club to an average size group of 30 every Saturday at our language school in Nikolaev Ukraine. Larisa and I started our school with two main goals; Help Ukrainians with knowledge and education. Most of the people who attend our English club, tell me that they come more for inspiration than English:) By the way, since opening our school in November 2008, we have never missed one Saturday although we did cut it one hour short the day we got married:) I will use your ideas for sure!

    • Dan Martell

      Bill, thanks for sharing that …. love that you contribute to others with your knowledge.

      Keep it up!


  • Arvindra Singh Kanwal

    Great Advice I am mortified in front of an audience

    • Dan Martell

      We all are at the beginning … it’s like a muscle, stretch it and it will grow.


  • Inviter Inc

    Share your presentation videos via for free


    I read Rich Dad Poor Dad and saw the need to add sales to my business skills.

    Although I have a ways to go, going door to door selling high speed internet
    helped me overcome my initial fear of speaking in public. Thanks for the
    structure you have provided!

    • Dan Martell

      James, going door to door is baller!

      Well done.


  • Julie S Kalungi

    I practice my speaking Muscle via Podcasting and I literally forget ending the story. Thats I must Muster. Awesome tips. I would Add entertain maybe to the list! Thanks for the PDF resource!

    • Dan Martell

      Entertain is definitely part of the mix… thx for the mention.

      Glad you liked the PDF!


  • Gulshan Botnia

    Great Speaker should look straight and eye to eye contact with others, whenever presentation speaker have self confident great site with great project.

  • Mrugrajsinh Vansadia

    I am googling for Pitch Deck tips. I am completely new in this area. but, want to explore maximum that I can. I went through some of the famous pitch decks like AirBnB , Buffer, etc.

    Can you please share some good tips, format of presentation and things to take care in Startup pitch presentation?

  • Secure Line

    Looking for Security guards? Visit:-

  • promosyon çanta
  • WorldCashMachine

    Teachings should definitely be the meat of your talk.

    • Dan Martell

      Agreed .. usually 80%.

  • Ogagabillions Toosweet Onowigh


  • Giulia Di Caprio

    Great Article! Your pieces of advice seem very useful. We have the same beliefs when working on your pitch, never underestimate a few elements! These will make yours successful and unforgettable.
    If you want to know how the startups we mentioned made it to our post on “The Startup Pitches That Won Incredible Awards”, read the article, watch the videos and learn from the best!

  • Promosyon Tisort

    Old but gold 🙂 bez çantatişört

    • Dan Martell



  • Po Ming Lam

    Nice framework, I’ll try this on my next presentation!

    • Dan Martell


Never Give a boring software demo again

Get FREE access to my Rocket Demo Builder™

A.C.E.S. Growth Engine

3 Secrets to Scale Your SaaS to $10k MRR and Beyond

Join the Masterclass Now

Book A Growth Session Call with my Scale Specialist.

Need a coach to help you scale your SaaS business?
Then let's chat.

Book A Call