Power Presentations Tip 59: When They Cut Your Presentation Time

Presentation time cut executive speech coach blog

The worst presentation sin is to waste time.
Imagine this situation. You prepared a 45 minute presentation because that's what you were told to deliver. You arrive at the meeting ready to speak and the chair informs you that your time has been cut to 30 minutes.

What can you do?
Charlie Sheen might curse, stamp his feet, raise a fist and yell, "Do you know who I am? I insist on my time."
That's probably not what you should do.
Instead, smile and ask the chair, "What time should I finish?"
In fact, make it a habit of asking that question just before you start every presentation.

That thoughtful question will demonstrate that you respect their time and plan to finish on time. That will also diminish the need for the chair to interrupt you with a reminder about the time or to surprise you with a last minute change.

To finish on time, place a travel clock where you can easily glance at it while speaking. Looking at your watch can be distracting for both you and the audience. Sometimes there is a clock on the back wall but don't count on that. Never stand in front of an audience and ask, "How are we doing for time?" You should know because you are the presenter.

To make it easier to trim your presentation, create it as a series of modules. Rehearse the presentation as modules so you can separate or reorder them when necessary.
If you had three examples use only the best one. Have more than one version of your stories. Those might be 5 minutes, 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

Be clear on your purpose and what you need to say to achieve it. It's never as much as you think. I coached a CEO to cut his 60 minute presentation to 12 minutes. He originally prepared 60 minutes because that was the maximum time the client scheduled. After listening to his original 60 minutes we uncovered only 12 minutes of pertinent material.

By the way, that CEO closed that deal. It was a $10 million contract.

If you can't explain your message in 5 minutes, you don't really understand it. On the other hand if you are able to explain it in 60 seconds or less then you are clearly aware of the relevance of your message to your listeners.

Einstein was able to explain his theory of relativity to the public with a simple analogy of a man walking on a train. He did that under 60 seconds.

Here's one more test for you. Summarize your presentation in six words. When you can do that you know your message and can easily adapt to changing time frames.

Forward this tip to your colleagues who want to be more effective presenters.

Call George Torok to arrange:

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