The Trick with Time in a Presentation

A look from behind the audience in a presentation

More than a few times when I have quoted my speaking fee to a company or association they have tried to negotiate by saying, “But you’re only talking for an hour. That’s a lot of money for an hour.”

To which I respond, “I’m not a plumber. You’re not hiring me for an hour. You’re hiring me for the three decades of experience I’ll bring to your audience. That’s about 55,000 hours of experience. Still want to pay me by the hour?”

Time is also misunderstood during the delivery. An event organizer might want your presentation or talk to last for 30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes but that’s because they are working off a spreadsheet trying to allocate and account for every minute of the total meeting, convention, or event. Your audience doesn’t think that way.

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Unless you’re delivering an 18-minute Ted Talk or a five minute Ignite talk where time is an integral part of the format, no one measures the successor your presentation by time. They measure it by how much you distort time or make it disappear.

If you gave a 30-minute presentation and it felt to the audience like a 10-minute presentation, you nailed it. If you gave a 45-minute presentation and it felt like an hour and a-half to the audience then you missed the mark.

The real test of time isn’t how long you’re in front of the room or on stage. The real test is how long it feels to your audience.

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