As a speaker, because of the importance of public speaking we would all like to be in charge of our time. We’d like to be the one who controls how long we stay on the stage – not someone else. However, this is not the case – somebody invited us to speak and they are in charge of how long we take. This is the way that it will always be, but it turns out that we do have some control over how much time we have – if only we know how to take control…
Keep Track Of Your Time
Ultimately you are in control of your speaking time. What this means is that while you are speaking, you need to be keeping track of how much time you’ve used up and how much time you have left. There are two ways to do this: milestones and a watch.
When you practice your speech, take note of where the half-way point is. Then, when you are giving your speech, you need to realize when you reach the half-way point. When you are there, you are going to have to make a decision as to if you are on schedule or if you’ve fallen behind. If you are running late, then it’s going to be time to start cutting parts of your speech.
In order to determine exactly how much time you have left, you are going to need to have a watch. You can never count on there being a clock in the room that you’ll be able to see while you are speaking. Using a cell phone with some sort of countdown app is an even better idea – the larger display is easier to see.
Make Sure That There Is Time For Questions
Every audience will have questions about the topic that you’ve just spoken on. How you handle their questions will determine what their final impression of you will be. There are two ways to go about doing this.
The first way is to take questions during your speech. This does show confidence, but it may throw you off of your time. A better way is to leave time at the end of your speech to take questions. However, after you’ve answered questions, make sure that you have just a bit of time left to wrap your speech up. By doing things this way you’ll provide your audience with the speech conclusion that they are looking for.
Talk With Your Audience After You Are Done
When you get done with your speech, there will undoubtedly be people who still want to ask you questions. What you need to do is to let them know that you will be available to answer their questions after your speech is over.
Tell your audience during your speech is that you’ll be available to answer their questions during the next break. By doing this you’ll be able to get out of the room where you just gave your speech and you’ll be able to clear the way for the next speaker.
What All Of This Means For You
Time is our most precious resource and neither we nor the person who set up our next speaking opportunity is ever going to seem as though they have enough of it. Although it may seem like we have a limited amount of time in which to give our speech, the reality is that one of the benefits of public speaking is thatwe actually have more control over it than you might think…
While we are speaking, we need to keep track of our time. Knowing where we should be and when we should be there is the key. We always need to make sure that we leave enough time for any questions that our audience might have at the end. Finally, don’t dash off after your speech is over. Take the time to meet with your audience and address any remaining questions that they might have.
Time is a wonderfully fluid thing. Sometimes we have too much, sometimes we have too little. When we are delivering a speech we can always use more of the stuff. Keep track of what you’ve already used, make sure that you have enough at the end, and take the time to wrap things up once you are done talking. This way you’ll be in charge of your time and not the other way around!
Question For You: What should you do if while you are speaking you check your time and you’re running late?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As public speakers, because we know about the importance of public speaking, we are always looking for ways to become better speakers. We can watch other speakers, read books on public speaking, or take courses. It turns out that there is a simple skill that we already have that if we take the time to use can make us a better speaker: writing.