Now that we have “buy-in” on the reasons for delivering snappy, tight, and timely presentations, let’s focus on specific ways you can improve your presentation timing.Despite the time-honored axiom, practice doesn’t make perfect. Rather, perfect practice makes perfect. In other words if you’re trying to tighten your presentation to less than 20 minutes and you don’t practice with a timer, why bother.
So get yourself a timer. Use your watch, use your mobile phone, use a kitchen timer, use the microwave clock — it doesn’t matter as long as you use something. First, you want to set a goal and see how far you need to go — are you too short (if only you’re so lucky!) or how much overtime are you?
Once you have a baseline, break your presentation into blocks. How much time you spend should reflect the structure of your presentation. For example with a sandwich presentation (the opening and the closing are the bread and body is the filling), you might arrange your presentation timeline like this:
Opening – 10 to 20 percent
Body – 65 to 75 percent
Closing – 10 to 20 percent
Keep working at your presentation until you’ve got the entire thing down to the time you want (with some time to spare) and you know the target time for each segment of your presentation. By blocking out your presentation with times, you can make notes to yourself about how long it should take to reach each segment. That way you can speed up or slow down accordingly.
If you use PowerPoint, the slides can be your ally in developing a timing strategy. You can even download a timing application that will allow you to match the slide to the pace of your presentation.