What is the best way to manage time in a presentation?

How do you stick to time? It’s a great question, and do you know what, it’s bloody hard. It really is hard. And there’s many ways of doing it, but perhaps the least useful way is to take your watch off or put your mobile phone down on the table next to you. Because actually you won’t look at it, very few people do.

I’ve seen at big seminars and events where speakers are given their half hour or forty minute slot there’s nearly always a socking great digital clock at the back of the room…… so the speaker just has to glance over the heads of the audience and he sees or she sees how much time she has left. But for most of us we don’t have the opportunity of having that clock. So pragmatically, there’s a couple of tips.

Number 1 is run it through yourself a couple of times, run your talk through. If it’s really important you stick to time run it through, practise it and time it. And then whatever you take in practice add a couple of minutes for the real event – because it’ll take that.

But, do you know, one of the best ways of all I know of sticking to time, and I do this myself whenever I can is – when I get there or just as I’m about to start – I come off the central part and I find a member of the audience sitting in the front row or so and I say “Look, I wonder if you would help me, I’m not bad at sticking to time but sometimes I run over.  Would you help me stick to time?” And then either give them your watch or give them your smartphone with the alarm clock or the timer on it and get it going for them and say “Look, could you just give me a little wave at 10 minutes, or 5 minutes or something.” None of them are going to refuse and say “No, time yourself you idiot!”  Most of them will appreciate being asked They’ll actually be spending most of the time looking at the clock or the watch rather than listening to you because they don’t want to let you down.

But that is really useful. If you have somebody there either a friend, or a newly met friend who’s going to time you and give you little 5 minute, 10 minute signs, that’s pretty well the only way you’re going to stick to time.

Not perfect, but I hope you found that useful. See you on the next one, bye for now.