How to manage your time during a presentation

No matter how much—or how little—time you’re scheduled for, keeping track of every minute is vital to a successful presentation. Remember these three points to use your time wisely.

Presentation professional Guy Kawasaki preaches that the average length of a pitch presentation should be no longer than 20 minutes. Depending on the purpose of the presentation and the type of content covered, though, a presenter could have anywhere from two minutes to two hours or more. The worst mistake a presenter can make is keep his or her audience over the allotted presentation time. That’s why we’ve put together this list of three tips to effectively manage your presentation time:

1. Energy management vs. time management

In recent years there has been a shift away from preaching time management to focusing on energy management. What does this mean? Let’s say you are a night person-nighttime is when you work at optimum productivity levels. But you force yourself to wake up early to manage your daytime better. Be honest with yourself. You aren’t going to magically have more energy in the morning to complete your tasks. Instead, assess when your energy levels are at their height and operate your work life within those time periods. What does this mean in terms of your presentation? Keep track of the stages of your presentation where you feel most energized within and focus the bulk of your efforts there.

2. Treat yourself like a stranger

Do you think you can easily put together your presentation in two days? Do you find yourself overestimating your ability to complete your deck and finish your presentation within the time allotted? Take an outside view of the situation. Pretend that a stranger is tasked with hitting three important points or messages in a 20-minute presentation. How long do you think it would take you to cover point #1? Now disregard your answer. How long will it take for that stranger to cover point #1? You’ll probably obtain a more realistic response to that question. Treat yourself like a stranger in order to accurately assess how you can maximize your presentation time.

3. Look at the whole, not the parts

According to a Harvard Business Review article titled “Time Management Training Doesn’t Work,” the modern-day workplace functions on training that provides “clarity around role priorities rather than specific task priorities.” When applied to presentation delivery, this means emphasizing those high-level elements of your message versus the granular details that may not matter-especially given the amount of time you have to give your talk. In situations where you are pressed for time, emphasize your overall message instead of the details.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Ethos3 blog.

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