Make a presentation in 5 steps (5): Content

There are lots of different types of presentation content and its important to treat it all well. Focus on the minimum effective dose. This post explains how.

(If you haven’t aleady seen the overview blog-spot for making effective presentations, read this first)


Develop content in order to deliver the minimum effective dose

Now it is time to create the content for your presentation – if you are like most people, this will either mean copy/pasting from previous presentations or putting in everything you know about the topic and then cutting out as much as necessary to make it fit into the time slot you have been given. Try applying the lessons in this blog-spot instead!


First of all: Don’t grab everything and then cut out in order to be on time or be less boring – you have to think about BUILDING your presentation up instead of cutting down from your 100% knowledge of the topic. Concentrate on the minimum effective dose!


The minimum effective dose is a concept I first read about in the book “The 4 Hour Body” from Tim Ferriss. This book has nothing to do with presentation skills! It is written by Tim Ferriss, the author of “4 Hour Work Week” which has some really great principles on lifestyle design and being effective. Tim has a great blog  site with lots of good information, links and references…

The basic principle of the minimum effective dose is this: The smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.

(If you want to read an excerpt from Tim Ferriss’ book on the minimum effective dose and its history in body-building and how it applies to getting a tan, read here!)


In your presentations (and everything else) anything more than the minimum  effective dose (of content) is waste. Adding more content willl:

  • Not create understanding and even detract from your key message
  • Create confusion by drowning people in details
  • Use time unneccessarily
  • Bore people


Note that there are 2 concepts at play here: “minimum” and “effective”. This means you must not have more than necessary and that what you choose to share must be (in itself) effective.

To avoid the problems noted above, ask yourself the 5 following questions in order to create the minimum effective dose of content:

  1. What must people understand in order to get the message?
  2. Which methods, media and ideas will be most effective in passing across the message?
  3. If I could only present 3 things to get my message across, what would they be?
  4. What have I included that is unnecessary?
  5. If I didn’t give all the details myself, what tools/references/resources could I point out so that the audience can continue without me?


The minimum effective dose can be applied to the speech you make, the slides you create, the way you talk to other people, exercises, content of training programmes etc etc…

I hope this helped. If you followed the 5 steps you should have a nice overview of how to build up effective presentations.

Good luck!


If you have questions, contact me:

If you have comments, add them!

And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…


Published by Dan Steer

For the last 17 years, I have been helping businesses and individuals to achieve their goals through delivery of tailor-made learning and development initiatives. Most of the time, I deliver training, coach individuals, facilitate brainstorming sessions, round-table meetings and workshops. As a consultant, I help my clients to promote and profit from the infinite learning opportunities within and without their own organisation, drawing on my L+D management experience, strategic approach and creativity, As a speaker, I inspire through story, humour and pertinent little bits of theory. I believe that the world would be a better place if people were happily working on their mission with competence and alignment to personal values. As a freelance worker since 2008, I have helped more than 11000 individuals to improve their presentation, communication, commercial, leadership and negotiation skills. I confront people with their own behaviour and convictions, facilitating and giving pertinent feedback and clear ideas on where to continue good work and improve. I seek to satisfy my clients with creative and to-the-point solutions… …and I make music, but no-one pays me much for it yet :-) First single here:

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