How many times have you sat in a speech or a day long training session and asked yourself the question; “Is he going to finish on time?” Or you ask yourself, “If the speaker is only on page 2 of the handout, will he make it to page 10?”
Every speaker at the start of their assignment thinks they have plenty of time to say and do everything. They feel they can make their points and still be able to add other facts and figures. It is only when they are past the half-way mark in their time allotment and they look at what they have left to say and the panic begins to set in. Or they are the last speaker of the day and their speech is 45 minutes long but it is 10 minutes to Happy Hour. As they say, we have all been there and done that. Here are some lessons that I have learned to help you keep your sanity and be in good graces with your audience.
First rule is to always remember that your audience would rather have you finish 10 minutes early than to keep them 1 minute late. Your opening and conclusion should be memorized but the body is where you can help adjust your time. For example, if you are the last speaker before lunch, you may have to cut your speech to finish on time. Assign the main points of your speech on a sliding scale of importance. When you know that you are going to run out of time, start to mentally remove the less important parts of your speech.
Concerning handouts, you either have to be extremely strict with your time or use a little devious trick. If you have 5 point handout, you may want to tell your audience that you are only going to speak on the 3 most important points. If you do finish all 5 points, you give the impression to your audience that you delivered more than you promise. This is always a good thing.
You may want to have a moderator to control the flow of the questions and answers portion of your program. Make them the bad guy with regardless to shutting off the questions.
Remember your audience’s time is more important than yours. You may not be the cause running out of time but you can be the hero to fixing it