[From the archives - 2008.]
I attend lots of webinars. And I moderate many more for clients. It never ceases to amaze me how common it is for speakers to run short on time as they near the end of their speaking slot. This is usually accompanied by the following kinds of statements:
· "I'm running short on time, so I'll just hurry through these last slides."
· "They told me to limit my remarks to 30 minutes, so I'm going to skip over this slide, and this one, and this one."
· "Well, I wanted to tell you more, but that's all the time we have."
By using any of these phrases, you leave two negative perceptions in the minds of your audience members:
1. You are unprepared/unprofessional as a presenter.
2. They missed out on something they should have received.
Frustrating your audience is not likely to help advance the goals you set up for your event. But as they say in the movies... "It doesn't have to end this way!"
First, a little tough love for you. Running short on time is YOUR FAULT. It typically means you did not adequately rehearse as a presenter. Rehearsing a presentation means delivering the entire thing word for word as if a live audience was listening. There simply is no other way to check your timings and learn where you can afford to add more detail and where you have to move smartly forward. Most people try to shortcut this step. We quickly look through our slides and make a mental note about the main topic on each one. That's not a rehearsal. Rehearsals are boring. They take up precious time. And they are absolutely essential.
Once you get your timings worked out so you can bring in your speech within the allotted time, find a couple of milestone points and note how many minutes into the presentation you should be as you hit them. Write those down in big numbers on a sheet of paper. As you deliver your live event, you can check yourself and know whether you are moving faster or slower than your target pace.
Now, I'm not completely insensitive to the dynamics of a live event. Sometimes you get a little extra adrenalin and find yourself talking more than during your rehearsal. Sometimes you spend a little extra time dealing with audience questions or analyzing audience polling responses. Sometimes you are sabotaged by a speaker who goes long before you. Okay, you need to adjust.
The important thing is to keep to yourself that you are doing anything different than you had intended. Don't announce to the audience that they are suddenly getting less information or less detail than they otherwise would have received. Don't ever call attention to the clock... You want your audience thinking about your subject materials, not the mechanics of how they are being delivered.
Most of the major web conferencing technologies have a way to jump directly to a slide. We tend to use a "Next Slide" button for convenience, but you should also learn how to jump ahead without flickering over intermediate slides. Work out in advance which slides you can safely skip, or talk about very briefly without sounding rushed. This is your emergency fail-safe in the event of a time crunch.
By the way, if you use a screen sharing product to show your slides in PowerPoint slideshow mode, you may not be aware that you can jump directly to a slide. All you do is type the slide number on your keyboard and hit enter. The audience sees nothing special, but the desired slide is displayed, regardless of the normal sequence. You will have to work out the proper "emergency slide number" ahead of time, and have it written down on your reference sheet.
Doing the proper planning and preparation gives you an extra boost of confidence in your ability to manage the situation, rather than letting it manage you. Your audience never knows that anything unusual has happened. You're a star. How can you lose?