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The Trick to Timing Presentations

The Trick to Timing Presentations


    I loathe timed presentations.

    A presentation should take as much time as it takes to do what it needs to and no longer. That, of course, assumes that that it needs to do is worth doing but let’s pretend that it is.

    That said, it’s important to know how long your rehearsed presentation is going to take when you perform it live. The best way to find out, of course, is to give the presentation so that you know how long it will take the next time.

    The second best way is to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. You should do this anyway, of course – but many of my clients tell me they don’t have the time to do this. (I’m not sure I agree about that – I think there’s a different reason for most of them not rehearsing but that’s for an other blog.)  So what we need, then is some rule of thumb to figure out how long an unrehearsed presentation is going to take.

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    (Note: delivering an unrehearsed presentation is asking for trouble – no professionals do it – so “caveat emptor” here!)

    Timing Your Slides

    Let’s assume you can go through your slides on the train, or on the plane as you travel to the conference. You flick through your slides, saying to yourself:

    “Yes, I know what I’m going to say here.”

    …and then pushing the ‘next’ button. The first absolute rule for figuring out how long your presentation will actually take is not to do this. Don’t say to yourself that you know what to say it – actually say it. Unless you want fellow passengers to think you’re very odd you’ll not be able to do this out loud, but you can do it silently at least.

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    The key thing is that your lips should move.

    Why?

    Because you think a heck of a lot faster than you speak. If you just say things in your head you’ll not get much of a clue about how long you’ll take to say it out loud. I’ve read various estimates of exactly how much faster you think than speak and the maximum I’ve ever seen is about tenfold!

    Use Your Smartphone – Part One

    Pretty much all smartphones these days have a stopwatch function with a lap timer facility. Use it. Time how long each individual slide takes. When you’ve gone through your slides, round each one up to the nearest quarter of a minute. That’s not always right for every slide but I’ve found that it averages out nicely. Rounding up allows for the time it takes to move from one slide to the next and (at least in part) to the fact that in real life you’ll speak more slowly than you do when you’re just going through the motions… or at least you should.

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    Use Your Smartphone – Part Two

    Metronome apps are inexpensive…so get one!

    This is a slightly artificial trick but it’s worked nicely with some of my clients. When you’ve got a moment to spare, give a practice presentation. It’s easier if you can get a friend to help you here, but it can be done on your own if you need to… set the metronome going and play with it until you find the approximation to your normal delivery rate. For what it’s worth, mine is quite fast at around 120 words per minute.

    Once you’ve got that sorted out, the rest is easy… The next time you go do the silent rehearsal (step one, above), you can set the metronome to your usual speed and plug your headphones to your ear. That way you’ll be kept much closer to your ‘real’ delivery tempo and you’ll have a much better idea of how long your presentation will run for.

    Simple, eh?

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    But don’t forget – nothing beats ‘proper’ rehearsal.

    (Photo credit: Clock via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 10, 2019

    5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

    5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

    Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

    Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

    But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

    Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

    But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

    Journal writing.

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    Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

    Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

    Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

    1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

    By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

    Consider this:

    Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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    But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

    The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

    2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

    If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

    How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

    Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

    You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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    3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

    As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

    Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

    All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

    4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

    Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

    Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

    The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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    5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

    The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

    It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

    Kickstart Journaling

    How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

    Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

    Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

    Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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