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Stay on track, beat the clock

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Persuasive speakers manage their time well. By sticking to a tight time frame, they keep the flow of information moving briskly.

It’s a pleasure to hear a well-organized presentation that does not run past its allotted time. You think, “The speaker really prepared.”

To stay on track, break your remarks into distinct modules. Practice completing each module within preset time periods.

Take the typical 15-minute management briefing. You start with a startling fact or observation to grab everyone’s attention (one minute). Then you place that introductory fact within the broader context of your main message and preview the three key points you’re about to cover (two minutes).

From there, devote three minutes to each of your trio of points. By limiting the body of your presentation to nine minutes, you force yourself to include only the most compelling information.

In the final three minutes, summarize the highlights and specify what actions you want the audience to take. This format enables you to deliver persuasive proposals or provocative analysis in a crisp manner that respects listeners’ time.

Dividing one big speech into lots of mini-speeches (each with their own time frames) may seem cumbersome at first. But with each rehearsal, you’ll give stronger and more seamless presentations.

Keep in mind that you need not fill every second you’re asked to speak. Savvy presenters often wrap up with a minute or two to spare. This not only leaves more time for questions, but also delights audience members who are used to windy speakers who never know when to shut up.


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