You should begin preparation for a new presentation at least one month before you are scheduled to give it.
By Laura Stack, MBA, CSP
Good time management is essential for a great presentation. Your biggest investment of time occurs before you ever step on the platform. Here are some principles to consider in preparing your speech:
Laura Stack has consulted with Fortune 500 corporations for nearly 20 years in the field of personal productivity and is the best-selling author of several books, including “Supercompetent.” She is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and the 2011-2012 president of the National Speakers Association (NSA). Stack’s productivity-improvement programs have been used worldwide at companies such as Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Cisco Systems, and Bank of America. She is the creator of The Productivity Pro planner by Day-Timer. For more information, visit www.TheProductivityPro.comor www.NSAspeaker.org.
For new presentations, you’ll spend at least 10 hours outlining, researching, thinking, and writing your presentation for every hour on the platform. Thus a new eight-hour seminar (one you’ve never presented before) will take at least 80 hours to create. So begin preparation at least one month before you give it. Practice a new program at least 10 times before presenting it. When delivering “live,” write the actual time on each page of your handout, so you can make adjustments afterward. Of course, your preparation time will be reduced for repeat presentations.
For phone interviews, reading, Website research, e-mail surveys, and other audience customization, plan on a 4:1 ratio. Don’t plan on arriving, chatting with a few people, and “winging it.”
When planning your comments, always have more material than you’ll need, just in case. Some presenters speed through their presentations due to nervous energy and end too soon. Check your breathing; if you are out of breath, you’re speaking too fast. Write the estimated time on each corner of your handout and practice your material enough that you can maintain the proper pace. It’s rare, but you may be asked to extend your time to “pinch hit” for a no-show speaker before you. I include extra content in italics at the end of my notes, just in case I need it.
Less is more. Something you believe will take 10 minutes could take 20 when done live. Plan on using 45 to 50 minutes of material for each 60 minutes on the platform. Always plan on speaking for less time than you anticipate. Leave room in your program for questions, spontaneous stories, local news, and unanticipated questions.
For group activities during seminars, allot less time than you think they’ll need. Give them 20 minutes to do something, and they will take bio breaks and make cell calls. Give them six minutes to come up with 10 ideas, and they’ll get buzzing and creative.