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Timing Tips for Successful Presentations

Timing Tips for Successful Presentations

Would you consider a presentation successful if the speaker went beyond the allotted time? It may have been a really good presentation, but because of the delay, you were late for some other important appointment. Remember, for the speaker to go over the allowed time is a big no-no.

In this article, DeckRobot examines the importance of finishing your presentation on time and gives tips for staying within your time constraints.

Know your time

The first thing to do is to determine how long your presentation is going to run. Consider that a 10-minute presentation needs to be prepared differently than a 30-minute one. No surprise that longer presentations require longer preparation. If you don’t prepare properly, then there is a risk of running out of things to say or show.

Know your talking time

If you are familiar with presenting basics then you probably know that your talking time is not the same as your presentation time. For instance, if your presentation is about 30 minutes, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to speak for 30 minutes sharp. Depending on the nature of your presentation, you may need to allocate 10 minutes for a Q&A session. Thus, check with the presentation organizers and see how many minutes should be allotted for questions.

The number of slides

Determining the right amount of slides is a bit difficult. According to Guy Kawasaki, you should follow the 10/20/30 rule – 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font. And this technique is one of the best, but truly it depends on the nature of your presentation. However, it shouldn’t technically matter how many slides you use as long as you make everything fit within your allotted time.

Time for your slides

The best timing tip for successful presentations is to figure out how many minutes you’re going to spend on each slide. You don’t need to spend a uniform number of minutes on each slide. Some slides may only take you a few seconds, others may take several minutes. As you go through each slide take note of how long each one is going to take. Use your phone’s stopwatch app for this. Tap on the ‘lap’ button once you finish a slide. The idea is to have each lap correspond to one slide, so you can figure out how long each slide takes.

One trick to make sure you’re timing your slides properly is by delivering your presentation as you would on presentation day – by doing it verbally! This means practicing your entire speech and actually saying it out loud. If you just say the words in your head, then you could mistime your presentation. We do read faster in our minds. Don’t forget about pauses. Every pause counts. In addition to helping you rest for a bit, you can also use pauses to emphasize certain points.


Speaking over your allowed time is disrespectful and will annoy at least some people in your audience. It’s a privilege to have their attention, whether it’s for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Your task as a presenter is not to abuse it! Following a strict timing schedule during rehearsal and your actual presentation are necessary steps to being a successful speaker. You’ll not only position yourself as an expert presenter but also as someone who respects people’s time.

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