October 22, 2018

If you are striving to be an impactful and dynamic public speaker, you have to understand the power of timing. This doesn’t just mean being able to land a joke successfully or how to utilize moments of silence. It means being constantly aware of the time you have, the time you need, and how to use it to make your message make an impact. Here are eight ways to make time work for you as a public speaker:

Use a timer

When you are practicing your message, use a timer to get an idea of how long it takes you to get through your message. For new speakers, keep in mind that you tend to speak faster when you’re nervous, so factor that in when getting an accurate estimate about how long your message will be.

Reconfirm your time limit

Before your presentation, double check that you understand the time restraints you have to work with. You may speak at ten conferences that all give you a one-hour window, but if you show up to your 11th engagement and find out you only have 20 minutes to work with, you may end up looking flustered and unprepared.

Know what info is disposable

In the real world, things happen, and you may learn minutes before you speak that what was once an hour time slot has now been reduced to 20 minutes. You need to prepare beforehand and know what content can be cut without diluting the message while still staying within the given time perimeters.

Have a handout

Giving your audience something to read and write notes on can drastically improve audience retention. If for some reason you run out of time and can’t get to all of your points, the audience can still reference their hand out. This doesn’t mean giving them a copy of your message or your presentation. This is a single sheet with the basic information they need to know.

Take time to set up

Arriving early will help you get a feel of the space and give you time to work out any last minute kinks. If you are utilizing technology, getting there early will help you make sure there aren’t any technical difficulties that could slow down the message.

Monitor your time

Even the most seasoned speakers can get carried away when talking about something they are passionate about. Use a watch or your phone to keep an eye on the clock. Keep your audience in the loop and let them know that you are aware of the time. Saying things like “I know we only have five more minutes, so I will finish this quickly” will let your listeners know that you respect their schedule and are intentional about finishing on time.

Build in time for a Q&A at the end

Allow time in your presentation for people to speak with you afterward. If your message goes right to the very last second of your allotted time, the time it takes to clear out of the room or answer questions could bleed into the time slot of the next speaker, if there is one. Scheduling a block of time at the end of your message to interact with the audience and answer questions is both productive and respectful of everyone’s time. Another way to connect with your audience while still being respectful of their time is to invite them to approach you during the next break.

Learn from the pros

Regardless of where you are in your public speaking journey, surrounding yourself with successful speakers can help you get to the next level. Online trainings, mastermind groups, personalized coaching and connecting with a mentor are all ways you can learn tips and tricks for effective time management skills.

The only way to get good at time management and become a better public speaker is find a person or group that will hold you accountable and help you master your day by mastering your time.

Part of reaching the next level as a public speaker is using the time you’re given to make the most significant impact. Being prepared, confident and organized will help you connect with your audience and prevent distractions.

What is one thing that helps you stay on schedule as a public speaker? Tell us in the comments below!