How to get your timings right when presenting

November 11, 2019

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Do you often run overtime when presenting? Maybe it’s time you adjust your overall time management skills and rethink your presentation strategy.  

Start by improving the way you manage your overall timings and making sure you start and finish your speech on time. This will earn the respect of your audience members and of the event organisers.

Another thing to consider is the 10-minute attention span rule – a concept developed by biologist John Medina from the University of Washington School of Medicine. According to Medina, people’s attention plummets after 9 minutes and 59 seconds. Therefore, you’ll need to add some variety to your content. 

Consider changing the tone in your voice, moving to a different spot, asking your audience a question or even using a polling system. Each of these activities serves the same purpose: to give your audience a mental break. We have a great podcast explaining more about this rule – listen to it here. If you follow this rule, your audience will follow you!

Get the timing right

Once you know the length of your presentation and how much time you have to present it, carefully plan out how long you’ll allow for talking and answering questions. Then, you can do a detailed outline of your presentation and decide on the structure and timings for each section. 

For example, if you’re delivering a one-hour presentation, you could divide your time as follows: 40 minutes talking time, 15 minutes for questions, and 5 minutes for any last-minute delays or interruptions. Then slot in four different interactive activities after every 10 minutes of speech to ensure your audience is still engaged. Don’t forget to also include timings for any interactive polls, videos and audio files. 

Your audience’s time is precious and you shouldn’t take it for granted! 

Whether you use Prezi or PowerPoint, you can use the Presenter view feature to see the timer and clock while you present. Another great timekeeping tool is your wireless controller. If you use the Logitech Spotlight wireless clicker, for example, you’ll notice that there’s a countdown timer that buzzes at 5 minutes and 2 minutes before the end of your presentation. 

However, bear in mind that live presentations often take longer than scheduled. It’s easy to get carried away and talk for longer when you’re on stage, so be flexible. Decide beforehand which section(s) you’ll drop if you run out of time and make a note of the slide number that is right after the section that you’re taking out, so you can skip straight to it. 

In the video below, Certified Prezi Expert Russell Anderson-Williams explains how to keep the momentum of your presentation without losing the crowd’s interest.

Practice, practice, practice

It’s important to practice your presentation out loud and time yourself. If possible, try to also record yourself and watch or listen to it, however painful this might be. You’ll pick up on any ‘Ummms…’ and ‘Aaaaas…’ and improve the pace and impact of your presentation. Great speakers always rehearse beforehand – more than once!  

Your presentation may be amazing and your presenting skills top-notch, but that doesn’t mean that you should keep talking for ages. Your audience will soon start to switch off. 

Once your speech runs over the allocated timeframe, you’ll soon notice your audience getting fidgety and losing interest. All those great ideas you’ve presented could end up with less of an impact. Your audience’s time is precious and you shouldn’t take it for granted.

For more presenting tips, sign up to our Newsletter and subscribe to our YouTube channel. 

If you’d like to discuss your presentation needs, email us at [email protected] to arrange a free consultation. 

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