Fitting Your Ideas In A Timebox

It might seem at first like an impossible task: giving a meaningful and informative presentation in 20 minutes. But it’s not, it just requires a rethinking of how you approach the task and what you hope to accomplish.

I got to thinking about this as I put the final touches on my slides for this week’s UX Thursday in Chicago. And I realized if you think about great proverbs or sayings you love, they often impart great meaning in just a few words. Think how powerful the phrase “Don’t make me think” is. You can say a lot in 20 minutes; it’s all in how you curate.

The first thing to recognize is you usually can’t teach practice in 20 minutes. But you can introduce theory — briefly, succinctly, and hopefully in a well-illustrated manner.

Secondly, accept that you will leave people with more unanswered questions than they came with. But take heart that they are now asking those questions. If you got them that far, you’ve been successful.

And finally, remember that almost all ideas scale up and down if you are willing to work at it. Think about the simple penny and the three little words on it: E Pluribus Unum. Simple and yet elegantly beautiful. But also an idea that surely can take many forms.

So don’t worry if you only have 20 minutes to share your ideas. Focus on how to make each minute matter.