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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 August 16, 2018

    10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

    10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

    The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

    In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

    Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

    1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

    What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

    Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

    2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

    Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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    How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

    Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

    Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

    3. Get comfortable with discomfort

    One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

    Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

    4. See failure as a teacher

    Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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    Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

    Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

    10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

    5. Take baby steps

    Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

    Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

    Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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    The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

    6. Hang out with risk takers

    There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

    Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

    7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

    Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

    Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

    8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

    What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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    9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

    Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

    If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

    10. Focus on the fun

    Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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