Don’t Use All the Runway When You Speak.

Don't use the whole runway when you speak.Whether you’re taking a speech class, speaking at Toastmasters or giving a key-note address, trying to pack every nugget of wisdom  into your speech can create a time monster.

Most of my speeches  have been cut by 1/3 to 1/2  by the time I reach the podium. Even then, I still use  every minute allotted to me and sometimes a few seconds more.  You could say I’m an expert at using all the runway. Recently, however,  I’ve been reading several blogs and books that have caused me to rethink my approach. Maybe I shouldn’t use the whole runway to bring my speech in for a landing. Maybe there is a better way.

Here are three reason’s why I’m shooting for the  minimum time instead of the maximum time allotted.

  1. It’s presumptuous to think that your audience wants more of you.  If you ramble on past the scheduled ending time of your speech, your killing your brand. When the  program shows that your are scheduled for 20 minutes, your audience takes that as gospel. Going beyond your time shows that you’re more concerned about your need to speak,  than helping your audience.
  2. It’s inconsiderate to your host and to other speakers. People who put on training and speaking events only have so much time to get them done. If you drone on past your time, you show disrespect to the organization who invited you and the speakers who come after you.
  3. No one ever complains that a speech ended too soon. They will definitely complain if it goes too long. Remember the old show business adage, ” Always leave them wanting more”. If your material is that good, they’ll invite you back.

How’s it working out for me?  Great, I’ve cut the number of points in my speeches which helps my audience focus on my material.  I’m also finishing slightly under time.  If I have too much time left over, I now have the luxury of adding material back in to my speech. In fact, I have a greater sense of control when I speak, because I have more options.

A special thank you to Mark Sanborn, Lisa B. Marshall and Lily Iatridis for some of the material and ideas for this post.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *