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How Tim Ferriss Structures His PowerPoint Presentations (And Five Other Useful Public Speaking Tips)

by Adam Noar

public speaking tips - presentation tips - tim ferris

Do you ever struggle with organizing your PowerPoint presentations, or get intimidated by public speaking?

If you answered YES to either of those questions make sure you read this entire article.

In this post I’m going to showcase how serial entrepreneur Tim Ferris prepares for his public speaking events using his EXTREMELY SIMPLE presentation structure.

If you are not familiar with Tim Ferriss he’s a best-selling author and human guinea pig who will do just about anything to make life more efficient and achieve his goals.

Ferris gives presentations around the world and always delivers powerful takeaways within his talks.

While his presentations always appear seamless, Tim does not consider himself to be the greatest “public speaker” in the world.

presentation tips - public speaking tips - tim ferriss

However, Tim does swear by his presentation structure that always gets his point across.

So without further ado, let’s explore how Tim likes to prepare his public speaking events and organize his presentations.

The Tim Ferriss PowerPoint Presentation Structure

1. Figure Out Your Timing

If your presentation is anything of a typical 60-minute keynote, Tim recommends automatically building in at least 20 minutes of Q&A (audience question and answers) which can often come to 30 minutes. This will reduce your actual “presentation time” to 30-35 minutes and will allow you to tailor the presentation to the group (via answering their questions) instead of guessing what is most important to them and delivering as a pure monologue.

2. Divide Your Presentation Into Five Parts

The next step is to divide your presentation into five sections as follows:

Introduction: Approx 2 minutes
3 Main Body Segments: 10 minutes (each)
Close: Approx 2 minutes

Note: No matter how long the presentation is, Tim practices the “rule of thirds” by dividing the main body segments into three parts. The rule of thirds is one of the many presentation tips that I talk about in my book Slides Made Simple.

3. Create Your Main Body Segments Using The EPE Technique

Next, for each of the 10 minute body segments, think about what is the main takeaway or usable action for your audience.

Meaning, if you have three main sections, you should have no more than three main points in your presentation.

To build out your 10 minute body segments, Tim uses the EPE (example-point-example) technique. EPE means you give an example, explain the concept, and finish with another example.

Note: When building each 10 minute segment, Tim sketches out 2-3 EPE’s on about 1/2 a piece of paper.

4. Create The Introduction

Once you have built out your main body sections you should now have a better idea of what your content is.

Now, it’s time to decide on the introduction, preferably starting with a good story and then explaining how you will be talking about three concepts (your main body sections) that will teach your audience about “X” (whatever your topic is).

Note: Unless you are funny (as in people tell you that you are funny all the time) do NOT use rehearsed jokes. If a joke falls flat in your intro, it most likely will ruin the experience for you and your audience.

5. Rehearse

Next, comes the rehearsal process.

Tim likes to rehearse his intro, MB segment 1, MB segment 2, and MB segment 3 (all separately).

He then “wings” (makes it up on the fly) the two minute intro until he has it down perfect.

Note: Tim also uses a kitchen timer on countdown, and each time he finishes he writes down any one-liners or wording that he likes. It’s important to note that he NEVER memorizes his presentation verbatim, but does make sure to memorize the starting and closing for each of the 5 sections.

Finally, Tim rehearses his presentation until he is happy (which could be up to 10 TIMES).

public speaking tips - presentation tips - tim ferriss - practice

6. Create The Close

Once you have then above in order, Tim prefers to “wing” the close, and repeat like the other portions until happy.

7. Rehearse The Entire Presentation

Now, it’s time to link everything together and practice the entire presentation until you “nail it” (do it really well) at least once.

Note: Tim mentions that you will probably forget about 10% of your memorized lines, which is OK, as long as you review your notes each time to ensure you’re hitting the most important points.

Once you’ve nailed it (at least once), go to bed.

8. Try To Get Some Sleep (The Night Before You Present)

Ferriss admits that he can barely sleep the night before presentations; no matter how many times he gives presentations. So, if you have a similar problem, make sure to get extra sleep the two nights before.

Note: Tim also prefers to rehearse right before bedtime with no alcohol, dinners, or conversations in between.

9. Final Mental Prep (The Day Of Your Presentation)

So, if you’ve done all the above you should be able to CRUSH your presentation no problem.

However, the day of your presentation there is a few more things you need to do.

The day of your presentation, Ferriss recommends taking a 20-30 minute brisk walk after a light protein-rich breakfast (no bread … since it can make you lethargic).

He also recommends avoiding caffeine until no more than 1.5 hours before the presentation (as you can easily burn yourself out drinking coffee or tea as a nervous distraction).

Once you’re stepping onto the stage remember: if you’ve done the above, you’ve prepared more than most speakers. You don’t need to be perfect, you just need to be better than a few others, and you’ve already built in insurance with good actionable content. Other presenters too often focus on delivery and forget content.

Remember, delivery is the first thing to suffer from nerves, but content won’t. It’s your foundation.

Finally, walk up with a smile and then CRUSH it!

Beyond the above presentation structure, Tim also practices the following public speaking tips each time he gives a presentation.

1. The Presentation Is Not About You

Tim points out that you should think of yourself as teacher from the stage. Remember, the presentation is NOT about you. It’s about your audience instead.

2. Be Extra Clear With Your Message

According to Ferriss, it’s fine (oftentimes good) if some people dislike you or disagree with you. However, he points out that no one should ever misunderstand you. Everything you say should be clear. So, make sure that you spend extra time rehearsing your presentation (preferably in front of a practice audience) to make sure everything your saying makes sense.

public speaking tips - presentation tips -tim ferriss - everything you say should be clear

3. It’s OK To Be Nervous

Tim mentions that it’s totally fine to get nervous and stammer a bit, drop F-bombs where needed, or generally feel like a nervous wreck. If you give good actionable, clear advice, people will forget all of that stuff.

4. Try To Laugh

Tim advises to try and have fun (and laugh at yourself) whenever possible. Beating the audience to the punch makes it much less fun for them to slam you.

Also, don’t forget to smile. Smiling will help put you in a positive mood.

public speaking tips - presentation tips - tim ferriss -have fun

5. Drink Diet Coke (Or Two) Right Before You Present

Tim Ferris gets a caffeine buzz going by taking one 16-oz. Diet Coke 45 minutes prior to speaking and another about 20 minutes prior to speaking. Yes, Diet Coke will give you hairy palms and insomnia, but this caffeine dosing has worked well for him when taking the stage.

Note: I personally prefer not to drink too much caffeine before a presentation as I can get too jittery. So, if you are that type of person you may want to limit Ferriss’s Diet Coke technique to only one (right before presenting).


Public speaking can be intimidating at times. However, if you plan out your presentation properly you can be rest assured that you have a well thought out message to deliver.

Here’s my question for you.

After reading this article, do you think you will try using Tim Ferriss’s presentation structure for your next presentation? Do you you disagree with any of these public speaking tips? Let me know what you think below and please try to be specific as possible.

Also, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these presentation tips? If so, email them the link to this post now.

Thanks for sharing and be sure to post this article on Twitter of Facebook as well (using the sharing buttons to the left).

Image Credits:

Tim Ferriss Cover image by Next Berlin, Tim Ferriss Quote #1 image remix by The Next WebTim Ferriss Quote #2 image remix by Next Berlin, Tim Ferriss Quote #3 image remix by The Next Web, Tim Ferriss Quote #4 by The Next Web

Presentation tips  - Check out my ebook Slides Made Slimple Now!

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