Your audience – one or one thousand – has an expectation of how long you will speak. Too short, and they'll think they didn’t get their money’s worth. Too long, and you’ll lose them.
Here are some tips to stay on target:
- Time each section of your presentation – introduction, body and close. If the talk is to exceed 20 minutes, break the body of the speech into your key points and allocate time for each.
- Identify and highlight, in advance, those points you can delete if you find yourself in a time crunch.
- Rehearse your presentation three to six times for flow of content and timing. Practice the opening and the close more frequently than the body. As noted in Morrissey’s Retention Curve (see post from 9/27), these are the parts your audience is most likely to remember.
- Watch the time. Check yourself at designated benchmarks, either by a causal glance at a wall clock, or a watch on the lectern beside your notes. Don’t glance at your wristwatch – everybody else will follow suit and may become painfully aware of time!