December 3, 2012 4:39 AM   Subscribe

I need to give a three-minute presentation on any topic. What's an exciting topic I can choose?
posted by freddymetz to Education (25 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Quantum physics. Unless your audience is 3 year olds.

On a more serious note, the first rule of any presentation is to know your audience and tailor for them. Without knowing your audience and the context you will get any range of answers from spot on to wildly off-base.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:43 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Spontaneous Human Combustion

Nose Picking - How common it is, why people do it, what percent are "eaters", and the health risks associated to it

The history of sword swallowing (along with an explanation for how they do it)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:44 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by pipeski at 4:45 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came in to suggest quantum physics.
posted by katrielalex at 4:46 AM on December 3, 2012

You could pick a story from your life - something positive that includes a lesson but not something too personal. Everyone has a story like this, and if it's vivid in your memory that will make for a good presentation. People are generally entertained by specific details that illustrate a story they can start picturing as they listen to you. Another option would be to teach something - if you have a skill or expertise that can be simplified easily and presented to a group.
posted by belau at 4:46 AM on December 3, 2012

The keys to a good and exciting presentation at any length are to have very deep knowledge about the topic and be excited about it yourself.

If you are excited about it, then generally everyone will stay interested. If you don't think it is interesting, then neither will anyone else.
posted by chiefthe at 4:58 AM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The history of the Principality of Sealand.
posted by raztaj at 4:59 AM on December 3, 2012

Best answer: Just google what the Blue Marlin does, I am not a young geek boy and even I was totally gripped that we humans have invented a ship that partially sinks itsef so it can "float-on" giant things to transport across the planet.
posted by Wilder at 5:09 AM on December 3, 2012

I gave a speech about skittles once. The class laughed, but I knew my stuff and was excited about it so I did great! You probably shouldn't talk about candy if you're no longer a teenager, but if you can passionately talk about something, it will make a great presentation.
posted by missriss89 at 5:11 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If the people to whom you are presenting will also have to do their own presentations before/after you, you could do a presentation on presentation performance anxiety, which everyone will find timely and relevant and there will be a lot of relieved laughter.
posted by elizardbits at 5:14 AM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Exeter Book. It's full of riddles.

Great Zimbabwe

Martin Gardner and math puzzles. You could even demonstrate a hexaflexagon.
posted by peacrow at 5:20 AM on December 3, 2012

How about something odd and amusing?

The Gentleman Time Traveler's Guide

Build A Nuclear Power In Your Backyard: A Practical Guide

How To Beat the Lie Detector

Planning The Perfect Crime: Best Practices For Criminal Activities

Funny Men As Women: The History Of Crossdressing In British Comedy

Happy 1000th Brithday! How Science Plans To Give Your Eternal Life
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:26 AM on December 3, 2012

What is the context? There are tons of interesting things to talk about but you need to a) have a passion for the topic, b) have knowledge on the topic and c) tailor your presentation to the audience.

Have a look at the latest German science slam - fascinating stuff about light pollution, black holes and solar panels!
Also check TEDTalks for inspiration.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:27 AM on December 3, 2012

Local architectural history, French artist Moebius, collecting vintage photography, classic documentary photography, etc. That is what I'd give a presentation on because I could easily talk about any of it. Dunno what interests you have or what you like but most likely it would be different.
posted by JJ86 at 5:36 AM on December 3, 2012

What really turns you on? What lights you up? Three minutes isn't long, but it can seem like an eternity if you're trying to remember some crap verbatim.

Can you use an index card? If so, write about 4 points about your topic, so that you can be prompted. For example:

Classic Star Trek

1. Main Characters
2. Secondary Characters
3. Stories/Themes
4. The 1960's

This way, you're organized and have a place to go.

Practice your presentation out loud. What takes you 3 minutes to read in your head will take 9 minutes to say out loud.

I taught Speach and Debate and trust me, this last one is key!

Get feedback from friends, hows your volume, tone, speed? Modulate.

I'm a natural ham, I love an audience. A lot of people freak out. Just remember, everyone in the room wants you to be good. They want you to do well.

Have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:53 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Many of the Bad Asses of the Week would make a good 3 minute presentation.
posted by Mitheral at 6:35 AM on December 3, 2012

Something that you know about. Given the time constraint, something along the line of a "fun fact" would be ideal.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:06 AM on December 3, 2012

Do you like sports? It's pretty straightforward to do 3 minutes on some aspect of the history of your favorite team, or its stadium, or something like that.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:07 AM on December 3, 2012

Space elevators. The Georgia Bigfoot. The French army mutiny in 1917.
posted by thelonius at 7:11 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Yellowstone Supervolcano.

Nothing like 3 minutes of "IT WILL KILL US ALL" to keep people on their toes.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:02 AM on December 3, 2012

Better things you could have been doing instead of this crappy assignment. Why are those things better?

Your initial thoughts on getting an assignment with no direction.

Your struggles to find a topic since everything conceivable to man was fair game.
posted by theichibun at 9:03 AM on December 3, 2012

The Chaldean Empire, aka the Neo-Babylonian empire... imagine waking up tomorrow to find all the newspapers in Latin and everyone wearing togas to work. That's almost as weird as the sudden appearance and bizarre end of the Chaldean dynasty.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:21 AM on December 3, 2012

Best answer: Why bananas trigger radiation detectors.

The plan to build a bridge across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Why predicting is hard. Science fiction predicted cars, but didn't predict rush hour and predicated email, but didn't predict spam.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:30 AM on December 3, 2012

Maggot therapy. Or medical leeches.
posted by zanni at 1:51 AM on December 4, 2012

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