Have you ever run out of time during your portion of a meeting, panel discussion, or during a presentation? And did you stop when your time was up, or did you keep talking because you had just one more really important point to make?
I had the most interesting experience watching more than 25 presentations in a row at a corporate retreat about a week ago. Even though there was a timekeeper, and presenters knew when they had reached their limit, more than a handful busted right through and kept on going. They had just one more point – or in some cases, several more points – to make. They even called themselves out and said, “I’m out of time, but I just need to tell you this one more thing … ”
Ouch. Really? Who is that all about? Is it all about the audience? Or is that all about the speaker? You know the answer.
So, here’s a reminder about Rule #1 … It’s all about them, the Audience! It’s not all about you. You need to respect your audience’s time and attention. You were lucky to have it in the first place, don’t abuse it. If you build your presentation effectively and organize your content so that messages (e.g. summary statements, statements of significance) are well constructed and primary, and then information (e.g. background, supporting detail, data) is dispensable and secondary, you’ll always be able to cut yourself off. Rarely is a speaker that special, or their material that compelling, that time limits don’t matter.
Trust me on this, there are two things about audiences you should keep in mind:
1) when an audience wants to know more, they’ll ask for it; and
2) audiences never complain when a speaker finishes early or on time!
SmartMouth Founder and Principal Beth Noymer Levine is a Communications Coach who is emerging as one of the country’s leading voices on how to prepare and deliver speeches and presentations that actually work for both the audience and the speaker.
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