Introduction | Message | Audience | Structure | Physical Aspects | Psychological Aspects

Time keeping

Theoretical Input | Preparation | Time Keeping | Content Delivery | Methods to convey content | Contact with the audience

What is the section about?
Expect the unexpected, someone has once said. Once you’re standing in front of the audience, you should be ready for any kind of situations, so go blind and try to prepare for the unexpected cases.

It is hard to define what it the issue you might face during presenting. It could be anything (an intimate question from the audience, an earthquake or a technical broke down), in any case, try to stay calm. Want it or not, you’re the one who have to somehow handle the situation.

Some practical tips:

  1. Keep calm, stay confident, try to fix it
  2. Communicate with the audience. They will have understanding if you are facing some unexpected problems
  3. Ask for help. Any technical personal, assistants, colleagues or even people in the audience can help you to handle the situation
  4. Try to go out of an embarrassing situation with a nice joke or even self-irony
  5. Use the situation to make a bridge to you next thought/slide
  6. To prepare in advance – start visiting more public presentations and lecture. Even the most experienced speakers face unexpected situations. Watch and learn from their way to handle it. You can always learn something new.

Why time keeping?
The golden rule with respect to time is that is valuable in many ways. For one, you usually only have a certain time span for your presentation, workshop etc.. That is why time limits the content you can convey. Secondly, your audience’s attention is temporary. Therefore, it helps to split a presentation or workshop into slots, each of which consists out of content and elements aimed at gaining the audience’s attention or simply motivating them. Thirdly, although you may have more time in preparing than your audience in coming for your presentation or workshop, it is their wishes and needs you have to fulfill. One of these wishes is feeling that their needs are considered. With respect to time this means that you respect that they only scheduled time for you as it was foreseen in the programme. After that they are busy doing other things.

The Issue:
So how to tackle the dilemma of one needing as much time as possible and one’s audience requesting you to stick to the time scheduled?
The solution – This is a possible practical example of how to plan your presentation time and adjust it to the audience:

  1. First thing you want to know when you start preparation is how much time you have.
  2. Make yourself aware of the fact that your “talking time” is less, in some cases much less than the total time you are given.


  1. As live presentations take longer than rehearsals aim for a much shorter presentation or workshop. To achieve this you can try to optimise your preparation by including the following steps:
    - Time yourself early in the planning process. This way you prevent preparing too much material, which is usually hard to let go off once it is prepared.
    - Always rehearse standing up and speaking out loud. It is even helpful to include saying what one would do as next step. E.g.: I will walk towards the audience to be closer when asking them for their opinion.
    - Prepare a timed schedule for your final rehearsal, which can even be a dress rehearsal


  1. Often improvisation is needed to make your presentation or workshop fit the circumstances. It is easier to make changes when your content is divided into blocks. Each of these has a key point and all together they sum up to your key message or explain it. To get your thoughts as organised it is helpful to
    Write each point as a full sentence (not a bullet-point) which expresses what you want to get across.
    • You may later reduce this to a keyword or phrase in your notes but you’ll have done the hard thinking required.
  2. To contribute as much as you can to keeping your presentation or workshop in time
    Prepare as much as possible in advance. Be set to go latest the moment the presentation is supposed to start.
    Have a clock or a time keeper and your schedule so that you can easily check it.
    • Be aware that there are close to always latecomers. They shall not stop you from beginning on time, but to give them a chance to catch up with you, do not start with the most important information straight away.
    • In case you fear to run out of time allow yourself even during the presentation a moment to reconsider. Your audience will be grateful as talking faster is the worst option you can choose.

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