Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Don't Let Your Presentation Run Long" ... OR..."I Missed Tucking In My Kids"

Note to people who speak on panels...

I don't care how good you are or how wonderful, informative and important your content is to the audience.... please do not run long. (This is also a reminder to myself, as I speak often!)

Keep in mind if there are other people who need to follow your presentation, and there is a finite time set for the panel discussion, that it is not just you who is impacted by your going over time. If you are too verbose you are being rude to the other panelists and the audience.

I recently attended an amazingly intelligent business panel on an important topic. The place was packed. The speakers were brilliant. But they all went so long that they lost me. I was looking forward to the audience questions, which never never came.

At the start of the event they announced that each had about 8 minutes to present their piece (three panelists), then they would take Q&A. There was about 55 minutes for the whole event following the announcements from the host of the evening.

Speaker one was funny, engaging, and I learned a lot. But she spoke for 30 minutes. Wow.

Speaker two was cleaver, and had amazing examples that were spot on topic for the audience. He spoke for 20 minutes.

Speaker three was whom I came to see. He is a person that I know and respect - and I was excited to see his presentation. By the time he got his computer plugged in and began going through his slides, the program should have ended. I have no idea what he said because I kept thinking about how I promised my daughters I would be home in time to tuck them into bed, but I was stuck in my chair...as crawling out over a dozen others in my row would have been awkward and rude.


Speaker three ended about 17 minutes later. No idea what he said, and that makes me sad.

I will admit that after ten years of studying professional speakers and presentations, I am highly critical of the execution of panel discussion and speakers. I am sure the rest of the audience was more or less unshaped by the longevity of the talking from the stage.

But I feel bad for the third speaker, the people who organized the event, the audience members who were planning to leave on time, and my kids,....who do not understand that sometimes panel discussions just run long. They will have sad little faces in the morning.

I write this not to be pompous, as I am a professional speaker, and I too have had events where the content has run long. I instead write this as a reminder to all of us who take the stage and plan events to remember that we must be respectful of the clock!

Have A Great Day.


1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Great topic, I couldn't agree more. I am a member of my local Rotary Chapter and we have a speaker each week. Sometimes the topics are very interesting, but the speakers just go on and on, they NEVER have time to answer questions at the end.

I'm surprised the speakers never practice in front of their spouses and have them use a timer. Come on! We're starting to do marketing presentations, and we are going to be sticklers for time.

It's tough because when you're up there talking, you never think you're taking a long time. But you are. :-)

Thanks for the reminder to keep it short and to the point!