Preparing Your Presentation: The Question of Time
If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you will know that we have done quite a bit of work to get to the point of being ready to prepare our content. You’ve established your goal, identified your audience, and found out as much as you could about the venue and the inner workings of the event at which you’ll be speaking. There is one more question you need to answer before you are ready to start creating your content. That is the question of time. How much time have you been given to speak? The amount of time you have to speak impacts how much you can say and how deep you can go into your topic. You also need to know if there will be a Q&A session and how much time is allocated for that.
If the organizers leave the amount of time you can speak up to you (and this could happen) take into consideration the time of day you are speaking and your place in the speaking order. As I said in my blogpost on The Context there are some speaking slots that are more desirable than others from the standpoint of audience attention span. If you have been given the first slot of the day or a morning time frame, you can probably speak a bit longer than if you are speaking either right before or right after lunch or at the end of the day.
In my view, it is always better to speak for less time and keep your audience engaged, than to speak for so long that you risk losing (or even boring) them. Even if you feel that you have loads of content to share, keep your presentation to 45 to 50 minutes. Keep your content focused and get your main points across clearly and memorably. Belaboring your topic will not increase memorability, nor will it endear you to most audiences. Finish while you are still in their good graces. If you have been given time for Q&A you will be able to go deeper into your topic in your answers.