It’s About Time

Woman holding up clock

Have you ever attended a presentation when the presenter said, “We only have time for one more question,” or “We don’t have enough time today to address this part of the issue,” or “Our time is short so we will move quickly through this part”? Of course you have heard all of these references to time, often uttered in a worried tone.

Does it drive you crazy like it does me? What’s wrong in this picture?

The presenter is tasked with creating a presentation that fits in the timeframe described by the host. It is the presenter’s responsibility to create a short enough, simple enough presentation that the word “time” never has to come up. It is not the responsibility of the audience to deal with the presenter’s inability to fit within the given time.

In fact, it distracts from the core message of the presentation and gives your audience something to worry about. After all, we humans prize time more than almost anything else. We’re always saying we don’t have enough of it. So why remind the audience of something that makes them stressed when you don’t need to?  They don’t own the problem – you do.

If you are preparing a presentation, create a talk that is 5-10 minutes shorter than requested, so that if anything takes longer, you will still have enough time and will be able to experience that luxury all the way through.

If you find you are zipping along to fit everything in and a bit breathless, rather than speeding up, there are options. You are giving your audience too little “white space.” Pause and take a breath, so your audience members will be able to absorb all you just blurted out. Build pauses into your talk. If you don’t give your audience time to breath, they will forget what you said.

And if there are more questions than you have time for, simply say, ”I would love to address the rest of your questions. I’ll stick around after this session to talk with you. Or if you have to leave, please email me – my email address is on the bottom of the materials.” In other words, finesse the issue rather than trying to share the responsibility with the audience. You’ll look a lot better, enjoy yourself more and so will your audiences.


If you would like help organizing your speech and/or rehearsing your delivery, Connie can provide you the expert assistance you need. Look here for a list of her services.