Keep To Time in your Presentation

As a presenter, how do you keep to time in your presentation?

In a recent high-level meeting of the UN about the global nuclear threat – in which Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world lives “in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe” – a newspaper report in the Age Melbourne (Oct. 4th 2020) tells us:

“103 of the 193 UN member nations were scheduled to speak for two minutes but many spoke longer, meaning only 79 delivered addresses.”

egg timer with lime green sand close up
Keep to Time in your Presentation

This is a common issue for speakers – and in going over time, other speakers may be pushed off the agenda, or forced to cut their time short.

This is bad – even when the topic isn’t the threat of nuclear catastrophe!

(Maybe the UN needs to install a mute button, like the recent U.S. Presidential debate between Trump and Biden!)

And if you’re aiming to, or already are, speaking professionally, meeting planners and other speakers at the event won’t be happy if you go over time.


When I posted this idea on LinkedIn this week, one of my connections commented that exactly this had happened to her:


She recently spoke at an online event, and had checked beforehand what would happen if other speakers went long.

Sure enough, she was given the 1 minute warning only 4 minutes into a 10 minute talk. Thankfully she was already using one of my suggestions for you below. She adds: “had I not, it would have been a disaster!”

So when you’re speaking – on or offline – how do you make sure you keep to time in your presentation? It’s not always easy to do, especially if you ask for interactivity, which is what trips most people up. Me included: occasionally I’m still caught out with a much higher interaction level than I was expecting from a group.

Three things I use:

1. Time markers which I should hit at key points of my presentation to know how I’m tracking
2. ‘Chunk’ my content so I can cut out a section if needed
3. Examples that I can expand if there’s plenty of time left, or move through fast (or skip) if needed

How do you keep to time in your presentation? Would love to hear your thoughts.

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