When you are speaking, you are given a specific time to talk, so how do you stick to time?
I was emcee for an event last night and as well as introducing and thanking the speakers, my role was to keep them to time. With a number of speakers, time can get out of hand if they all want to just keep talking, so timing is everything.
Like one of the speakers said last night, time is not something you can get back. So you do have to respect everyone’s time, and appreciate that your audience members do have other time commitments.
If you speak for longer than you’re allotted time, then you are taking time away from something else – perhaps even from another speaker.
So how do you keep to time and show respect for your fellow speakers and audience?
1. First and foremost, know that less is more. It seems I cannot say this enough.
If you have been given an opportunity to speak, don’t think that you have to share EVERYTHING you know. You can’t…. and guess what, it’s not as helpful as you think. You will overwhelm your audience!
The audience will leave and think how wonderful you were, and how much information you had to share, and yet, if I asked them today what did they learn and what might they do differently – I would say 99% would be challenged to say anything clearly.
I know you have a lot of information to share, and the best thing you can do is to consider what is it most important for your audience to get.
If you have a lot of points that you want to get across, then you won’t have time to go into much depth on ANY of them. Problem is, you might be tempted to do so once you have the microphone, and before you know you have run out of time, and you still have several main points to go.
Better to stick to a few main points and to give your audience something clear to remember.
2. Practice and time yourself so you know that you can stick to the time required. Better to not have enough, and fill the time with stories or Q & A, then to have too much and feel rushed to get it all in.
One speaker last night told me that he would probably only talk for 10 minutes, and yet he easily managed to go the full 30 minutes as he engaged the audience with his stories.
3. Have a system for knowing whether you are on track so you can pace yourself. For example, know where you need to be at the 10 minute or the half-way mark. Have a timing device or someone timing you to give you markers of how much time you have left so that you can stick to the plan. Oh, and please, do not avoid looking at the timing person who is trying to keep you to time so that the whole event can run smoothly.
Again, I know you have so much information to share, and the best way to share it is to drip feed it. Make the most of a speaking opportunity by speaking with impact rather than speaking a lot.
Perhaps you have heard the story of the monk offering a cup of tea to a young man coming to seek his counsel. Once the cup was full, the monk continued to pour the tea watching the tea flowing over and over and spilling everywhere and yet the monk continued to pour.
It didn’t change the quantity of tea that was in the cup for the the young man to drink. The cup is only so big, isn’t it.
I’ll let you think that one over, and ’til next time, remember how brilliant you are and dare to shine!
Learn more on how I can help you get clear on your message so your next performance can be inspiring and timed just right.