Think about the last time you were attending a presentation where the speaker went over their allotted time. Chances are you were bored and maybe a little irritated that it put you behind schedule. You may have even been tempted to get up and leave before the presentation was over. The fact is timing is everything when it comes to speeches. You should always assume that your audience is busy and has somewhere else to be right after your talk. Audiences begin to feel uneasy when you are approaching your time limit and haven’t started wrapping up. At this point you risk offending your audience and more than likely they quit listening to what you are saying. Don’t throw away your credibility and your chance to deliver a strong conclusion by speaking too long. Instead, plan accordingly and follow these helpful tips for keeping your speech within the time limit.
Know How Much Time You Have Been Given
Before planning your speech, make sure you speak to the event organizer to see how much time has been allotted for your presentation. You should always be aware of exactly how much time you have and verify with the organizer before the event.
Plan Your Content and Be Reasonable About It
For many speakers, the difficult part is being reasonable with how much they can say in the allotted time. Most people overestimate the amount of material they can cover within the time limit. Take time to prioritize your material and decide which content is the most important for your presentation. Then, be reasonable about how long it will take you to effectively deliver your message. It is better to deliver an appropriate amount of information at a comfortable pace than racing through too much material.
Don’t Forget To Factor in the Extras
When deciding how much material you can cover, don’t forget to plan for the extra parts of the presentation including Q&A, activities, and breaks. You want to allow extra time for audience questions either during or at the end of your presentation. If you are planning any audience exercises or activities, don’t underestimate how long they will take. Finally, if you are giving a longer presentation make sure you allot time for restroom breaks, coffee, or lunch. When you factor in all of these “extras,” you will find that your instruction time is much less.
Start on Time
The best way to stay on time is to start on time. It is difficult to ask for a few extra minutes at the end of your speech because you got started a little late. Do everything you can to start on time. Make sure all of your technology is set up and ready to go beforehand and try not to waste a moment on preparations.
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
If you have not given many speeches it can be difficult to gauge exactly how much content you can fit into your allotted time. The best way to get an accurate idea is to rehearse. Rehearse your speech out loud and time yourself. For longer presentations, you should also take note of how long each section takes and make note of it. That allows you to create a timetable that you can use during your actual presentation. Adequate rehearsal allows you to get a better idea of how to time your presentation.
Speaking beyond your allowed time can be distracting, frustrating, and even disrespectful to your audience. Remember that you are privileged to have their time and attention so you do not want to waste it. Incorporate these helpful strategies to learn how to give a fabulous speech that ends on time!