Always tell your audience how long you’ll be speaking for – and stick to it!
I was at a presentation a few weeks back. I was invited to attend by a client. There was no agenda for the function.
The first speaker opened her presentation. The speaker said, a few minutes into the presentation rather casually, as if she wan’t going to present for too long – that she would talk for about 20 minutes.
At the 20 minute mark I was expecting her wrap up. But that didn’t happen. The presentation went for about 40 minutes.
Presentations that extend beyond the time stated in the agenda or by the speaker themselves – as I’m sure you’ve experienced – is common.
This behaviour abuses the attention of the audience,
is amateurish and is unprofessional.
Usually, when I don’t know the speaker, I sit at the back of the room so I can leave if necessary. Unfortunately, the room at the function I attended, was set up with the exit door at the front of the room near the speaker – and though I wanted to leave, I chose not to.
Own the Conversation
For your next presentation and subsequent presentations, here are my suggestions:
- Always, at the start of your presentation after you’ve hooked the audience to listen and shared your take-away message – tell the audience how long you will speak for, and the latest time you will be speaking to, and make sure to stop at, or even before the nominated time. (No one minds a speaker who finishes early).
- Tell the audience the finish time, even if the finish time is listed in the agenda for the meeting. Here’s what I often say – “I’ll be speaking for 20 minutes and then we’ll have 20 minutes of Q&A, and the presentation and Q&A will finish by no later than 10:25″.
- By telling the audience the finish time, one thought the audience may have is, ‘Well even if they’re bad, at least I know when I can leave”.