I once saw a speaker
with a 20-minute time slot finish after a 50-minute marathon. The speaker
after him had his time cut by two-thirds and, needless to say, was very
upset. The sad thing was that the "tardy" speaker did an excellent job...for
20 minutes. Going over your allocated time is one of the most common
mistakes made by the truly "unprofessional" speaker...remember to ALWAYS
finish on time. As Baron Leslie Hore-Belisha said, "To make a speech
immortal, you don't have to make it everlasting."
When you are asked
to speak to a group, invariably you'll be asked how much time you need.
However, my experience has been that rarely will you actually have this
much time, particularly if you're speaking at a luncheon or dinner before
a civic, professional or trade group.
Be sure to ask at
what time does the function usually end and at what time are
you scheduled to speak. That way, if you start later than your scheduled
time, you'll know how much of your presentation will have to be pared
away in order to finish at the normal time. It is appropriate, if not
done in a condescending way, to acknowledge that you are running behind
schedule, but promise the audience that they will be on their way at
the usual time. Believe me, they will LOVE you for it!
1999-2000 by William C. Wilson, Jr.
All Rights Reserved.