Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Photo by Lisa H on Unsplash

It’s only 5 minutes. How bad can it be? The short speech. Should you just wing it? Depends on how much you value your career. Every time you have an opportunity to speak in a public forum is an opportunity to build integrity and trust around your personal brand.

But for many the short speech is one to ignore.. No need to prepare, I’m all over it. In fact, to nail a short speech is sometimes harder than a longer one. And here’s the reason why.

Nowhere will the Curse of Knowledge be so obvious. You have so much to say and you’re going to damn well try and cram it in to your 5 minutes.

Noo! Because then you’ll talk too quickly, give your audience a brain freeze with information overload, and then go over time, screwing it up for any other speakers/acts/panels that come after you. (You only have to have your time cut short once because of another speaker’s self focus to learn this one).

So what’s the best way to use your 5 minutes?

Decide what the key message is you want your audience to take away. Not the three things, just the one.

Then you have two options. Support this key message with 3 key benefits for you audience. Allocate no more than 60 seconds to each one. This means you have to edit like there’s no tomorrow to come up with a succinct, impactful message.

The second option is to tell just one story to illustrate your key message.

Think about this. You’re the host of your company event and you need to give an overview half way through the day. You greet the audience, thank them, acknowledge the venue chefs and the team, talk about how good the day has been so far, and then you’re just about done.


I’m reminded of a story I often tell of Lennons Plaza in Brisbane a hundred years ago. As a bunch of buyers on a familiarisation trip we had been taken to what seemed like every possible hotel in south east Queensland. Lennons was last on the list. We were hot and tired. Instead of taking us around to the standard, superior, deluxe rooms, with views, without views blah blah blah, they offered us a choice when we arrived: massage or pedicure. We never even saw a room.

What would you remember? Lennons key message was clearly that

they cared about their guests.

It’s the same with a speech.

Tell a story of

An experience

Superlative service

A personal story of a staff member who went above and beyond

Why you do what you do

As long as it illustrates your message, you’re on a winner.

So next time you are asked to give a short speech, don’t wait until half an hour before to think about it. Put the work in. Make an impact. Don’t sell yourself short.

Lynne Schinella is a speaker, coach & facilitator who helps develop influential communicators.

For her women’s speaker retreats see – next event 7 – 9 May in Sydney.

To find out more about what Lynne does and why, click here.

#PresentationSkills #publicspeaking #speakingup #Communication #FindYourVoice