Don’t leave your audience anxiously watching the clock. We discuss why you should always keep to your allotted time when giving a presentation, and why your audience will thank you for it.
When you are asked to give a presentation, you will often be given a neat little slot to fit into. It might be 10 minutes at the beginning of a meeting, or perhaps an hour between two other speakers. Either way, that time is yours. Yours to make your pitch, convey your message, wow your audience.
Any time outside of that slot is not yours to play with.
You might think it goes without saying, but never run over your presentation slot. Doing so will encroach on other speakers’ time, make you seem disorganised, and disrupt your audience members’ schedules. Because they will more than likely have somewhere else to be when your quick 10 minute presentation turns into a 30 minute rambling monologue.
There’s nothing worse than being forced to sit around when you’ve got other places to be. So no matter how well your presentation seems to be going, or how engrossed your audience appears to be, always stick to your allotted time.
Practice, practice, practice
When you are faced with a complex topic and unexpected questions, it can be difficult to ensure your presentation runs exactly to time. However, with careful planning and a close eye on the clock, you can ensure your audience are never left shuffling in their seats, eager to rush off to their next engagement.
Plan your entire presentation around the time slot you’ve been allocated. Write your script and practice it repeatedly to ensure you make the most of the time you have.
Filming yourself presenting or presenting in front of a mirror are great ways to perfect your presentation and ensure it runs to time. If you’re more technologically inclined, there are also a number of resources available to help you perfect your timings, from simple timer apps to PowerPoint’s very own Rehearse Timings feature.
This handy feature allows you to time your presentation from beginning to end, and also shows you how long you spend on each slide. This can make it a lot easier to cut your presentation down (or bulk it up) by showing you which slides you tend to waffle on. Microsoft wrote a handy guide about how to use Rehearse Timings, which you can find here.
Prepare to succeed
It might sound like a cliché, but if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. This is especially true when it comes to presenting. Even Steve Jobs rehearsed his keynote presentations on stage over and over again, preparing for it weeks in advance and spending up to two whole days practicing beforehand. Rehearsal and a consideration for your audience members’ time are crucial to the success of your presentation.
By perfecting your content and keeping to your allotted time, you will be in with the best possible chance of delivering your message effectively and leaving your audience with a positive impression of you and your ideas. Practice makes perfect.