Keep Within Your Presentation Time

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Top tip of the week: respect your allotted presentation slot


Don’t leave your audience anxiously watching the clock. We discuss why sticking to your allotted time for a presentation is a courtesy your audience will undoubtedly appreciate.


When you’re asked to give a presentation, you’ll often be handed a neat little slice of time to fit your performance into. It might be 10 minutes at the beginning of a meeting, 20 minutes sandwiched between other speakers or a daunting post-lunch hour (ouch). That time is yours to do with wat you will. Your moment to pitch, enlighten and dazzle your audience.

What’s not yours is any time beyond that limit.

It seems obvious, but apparently it needs saying: overstepping your time is big presentation faux pas.

Running over encroaches on other speakers’ time, brands you as a bit disorganised and disrupts your audience’s day. Turning a quick 10 minute spiel into a 30 minute rambling monologue could easily cause serious discomfort for those audience members who have other commitments.

There are few things worse than being forced to sit around when you’ve got other places to be. So, no matter how well your presentation seems to be going, or how engrossed your audience appears to be, honour the clock.

Practice, practice, practice

Navigating complex topics and fielding tricky questions can make timing tricky. However, meticulous planning and time-awareness can prevent that awkward crowd seat-shifting.

Build your presentation around your allotted time. Draft a script and practice it to ensure you make the most of the time you have. Aim to be a few minutes under the time limit (or more than a couple of minutes if you’re anticipating a thorough Q&A).

Filming yourself presenting or presenting in front of a mirror are two great ways to perfect your presentation and ensure it runs to time. If you’re more technologically inclined, there are loads of resources available to help you perfect your timings, from simple timer apps to PowerPoint’s very own Rehearse Timings feature.

Rehearse Timings allows you to time your presentation from beginning to end, and also shows you how long you linger on each slide. This makes it easier to cut your presentation down (or bulk it up) by showing you which slides you tend to waffle on. Microsoft wrote a handy guide about how to use Rehearse Timings, which you can find here.

Prepare to succeed

It might sound like a cliché, but if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. This is especially true when it comes to presenting. Even Steve Jobs rehearsed his keynote presentations on stage over and over again, preparing for weeks and spending up to two days practicing beforehand. Rehearsal and a consideration for your audience members’ time are crucial to presentation success.

By perfecting your content and keeping to your allotted time, you’ll be in with the best possible chance of delivering your message effectively and leaving your audience with a positive impression of you and your ideas.

[highlight]If you need some more help putting together that killer presentation, get in touch with us today. From expertly designed slides, to damned-clever PowerPoint development, nobody does presentations like us.[/highlight]

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