How ‘the 15 percent rule’ will improve your speeches

In speeches and media interviews, figuring you’ll fill 85 percent of the allotted time will keep you from overstaying your welcome and give you wiggle room to be extemporaneous.

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Do you know when to stop talking?

It’s said that former President Bill Clinton—famous for speaking well past his assigned time slot, earlier in his career—has reined himself in with what I call the “15 percent rule.” The rule: You plan to fill 85 percent of the time allotted.

That leaves 15 percent of your time as a cushion to ensure you don’t exceed the limit. But the benefits go further, and Clinton uses it as time to make an aside or engage in extemporaneous back-and-forth with the audience, based on where he feels the audience is emotionally.

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