(This blog is a 9th in a 15 part series titled ‘Definitive Guide to Making Killer Sales Presentations’. Sign-up now to be the first to receive the full-fledged guide.)
You owe it to your audience to start and end your presentation on time and also communicate ideas which are relevant to them. There are various aspects to effective time management which I’ve detailed below.
Planning is really half the job
- Know how much time you have and what core idea(s) are you trying to communicate. Then, plan/write your speech before making the slides. This way you’ll have the flow of the presentation frozen beforehand and won’t get bounded by the text on the slides. You slides will follow your speech. Number of slides is really irrelevant when you really focus on the core idea you’re trying to communicate. Use as many slides as you want if it helps you communicate an idea effectively in the given timeframe. Don’t limit yourself to any mindless rule like one-minute-per-slide or anything like that.
- Know the main ideas you want to present beforehand and write them down. Also know the total time available to you as a presenter, subtract 20-25% of the time to accommodate for opening and closing, settling, any unforeseen delays like a meeting ending 10 minutes late, diving a little deeper on a particular topic etc. and then with the remaining time find out the time per idea and even time per sub-idea you would have available to spend instead of time per slide.
- Plan for the opening and closing of the presentation, settling, giving handouts, introductions etc (~10% of the total time available)
- Allow time for questions towards the end (~15-20%)
Prioritize your main idea(s)
- Know the core/key elements/ideas of your presentation, so you can get to those points quickly in case you need to cut short your presentation
- Try to tackle the difficult/main concepts first to avoid losing impact in case you need to rush through the end of the presentation due to lesser than expected time available
Organize key concepts into easy-to-digest chunks
- Always organize and consolidate related/similar points together while building out your presentation to avoid any repetition/redundancy in the flow
- Avoid putting/presenting too many thoughts or ideas in a single presentation slide. It is okay to present 2-3 related concepts in one slide given the takeaway of the slide remains one. As a general rule, one-slide-one-takeaway. Also, don’t try to cram too many concepts in one slide even if they represent one takeaway. In that case, it is okay to spread the idea into multiple slides or use a progressive build.
- If there are more than one presenters, ensure you organize your slides in such a way that there is a smooth transition and no repetition of ideas.
Time-keeping during your presentation
- Practice/rehearse your presentation multiple times to see if you’re maintaining the time limits. Also keep a check on the time spent explaining each idea so you may increase or decrease this time to suit the overall flow of the presentation.
- Have a neutral audience and ask if they understand your speech or if it needs explanation at certain places. This way you can decide to tweak the time per idea we discussed above in order to accommodate any additional time to dive deeper into a difficult to grasp concept.
- Reach venue on time. Nobody likes to wait. That coffee or small talk can wait.
- Have time clearly visible in front of you in form of watch or a clock. There are even apps for that these days. TED stages have a clock in all their talks for precisely the same reason.
You can also use the in-built presentation mode in powerpoint softwares.
The above tips should help you manage communicating your ideas well in time.