When you are giving a speech or a presentation, one of the most important aspects outside of the actual message you are delivering is to stay on track. You don’t want to go over time, and you don’t want to forget to include parts of your message, that would be disastrous. There are however a few things you can do to keep on track with your speech and come across like a pro to your audience.
Know the Time Limit
Every venue you speak at you will most likely have a different time limit, always find out what it is. If they say that it doesn’t matter, ask how long other people are speaking for, or ask for a list of speakers so you can do that research yourself. Always try to plan to speak at least 90 percent of the time you’re given.
Plan and Edit Your Content as Needed
Once you have the time limit and understand the set-up and order of speeches, you can adjust your content as needed. You may need to shorten or lengthen different aspects of your talk to make it work for the allotted time and the audience.
Practice with Purpose
When you practice, try to simulate the conditions you’ll be giving the speech in. Stand up while you practice. Learn to project your voice and energy out to the audience. Practice your visuals, the technology and your voice.
Begin on Time
If possible, always begin your speech on time so that you can avoid the nerves of being late. If the speaker before you takes extra time, have a way to cut back on your talk so that no one notices. Make sure you don’t drag out your speech to long, you don’t know what your audience has planned afterwards.
When you are practicing, know how much time each section of your speech takes you to get through. That way you have touch points to check your time to ensure you’re staying on track throughout the speech.
Structure Your Speech Carefully
Most speeches work well to tell in three parts, like a three-act play. You have the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. This can be translated to your story, the problem, and the solution.
Be In the Moment
One of the most important things to do during your speech is to try to focus on what you’re doing and not what others are doing. Focus on how your breath feels, how the floor feels, how everyone looks, and not on anything else but your job right that moment.
One of the bad parts of a podium is that sometimes it forces people to stand still behind it instead of moving around. If it’s possible to get wired for sound and move around, ask for that instead. You’ll actually project more energy and confidence if you don’t have to stand behind something.
Make Eye Contact
As you give your speech, find people in each section with whom to make eye contact. Even if you cannot actually see anyone due to the lighting, try to pretend you’re looking at each individual in the audience from your left to your right so that you include all people in the talk.
Silence Is Golden
As you give your speech, remember that it’s okay to pause and allow for silence. Talking too fast will make you finish too early. In fact, most people talk too fast during a live speech and end up being done early. Instead, pause, take in the silence and allow people to react to what you say.
Staying on track with your speech takes lots of practice and requires you to be properly prepared, but you can do it if you plan correctly. Just remember that even if you make a small mistake, an audience realize most of the time. They do not have a copy of your entire speech and you’re the expert, not them. Therefore, just go with the flow and do your best, using this time as practice and next time you can do even better.