Public speaking pet peeve

Today’s Lifehacker special is a piece I wrote on “Public speaking do’s and don’t’s”. I list ways in which one can prepare for a talk and suggestions for how to make the most of a presentation. I welcome additions to the list, in the comments here or to the original post.

I won’t replicate the entire piece here, but I do want to mention one of the issues I discuss. One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to presentations has to do with most people’s inability to stick to the time they have been alloted for their talk.

Few people are such amazing speakers that the audience can’t get enough of listening to them so it is best to wrap up a speech on time. One of the most common pitfalls is to add “brief” introductory remarks to one’s prepared talk. There is usually nothing brief about such comments. Moreover, given that most conference presentations – the ones with which I tend to be most familiar – are supposed to take about 15 minutes, adding just three minutes of intro uses up 20 percent of the time allocation. However, most people are already short on time so this way they get even more behind.

I have considerably less experience in industry and other realms. Is this better elsewhere?

A related pet peeve concerns moderators who are unable to tell people that it is time to wrap up and give the next person a chance to speak.

6 Responses to “Public speaking pet peeve”

  1. tekatana Says:

    gratulálok a cikkhez, a lámpalázra ugyan nem találtam benne orvosságot, de egy-két hasznos tippet igen (éppen készülök egy előadásra a creative commons-ról)

  2. eszter Says:

    Azt hiszem a lényeg ilyen szempontbol az, hogy ha jol felkészülsz az említett pontok szerint, akkor talán nyugodtabb leszel, mert annyira nem szurhatod el.:)

    Yup, this is a multilingual blog. For others’ sake, the previous commenter is saying that while the piece didn’t help with major feelings of anxiety about public speaking, he did pick up a few hints. My response is that the idea underlying the tips is that following these pointers should help by making sure you can’t mess up.:-)

  3. scott Says:

    I agree heartily. It sucks to be given 15 minutes to speak when you’ve prepared for 30. There’s no excuse for other people running over their time like that.

  4. tekatana Says:

    so that you don’t need to translate every post of mine :):
    right after i’d sent it i crossed my mind that maybe i shouldn’t have taken for granted that you’d understand just because you have (such a nice) hungarian name :)

    for me i think the most useful notes were being careful with the unplanned parts (introduction etc.) and the take-away message idea.
    (the reason i mentioned “stage-fever”: i’ve had pretty frustrating experiences in the past – last time previous practice was no help as i forgot all i wanted to say the very second i grabbed the mic, and ended up skipping important points. must add i don’t do public speaking often)

  5. eszter Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your last experience. Could it be that you hadn’t practiced enough? Also, I think the outline of each part of the talk is very important as that can help you through such moments. Even if you forget what exact words you were going to use – and frankly, you probably shouldn’t have exact words you feel like you have to use -, you can think about the outline and main points you want to make and go with that. Or if you don’t want to leave it to chance then write down a short list of the outline so you have that as a guide.

  6. Beth Says:

    In my experience, the problem with presentations in the business world is that people don’t know how to make them interesting.

    They drone on and on, overprepared and following a script or slides that repeat almost word-for-word what they’re saying.

    This is why I ad-lib most of my presentations after internalizing the material thoroughly. I’ll bring notes to remind myself of salient points I want to be sure to make, but otherwise, I try to keep things as unscripted and flexible as possible. It makes a lot of room for adding humor which tends to help engage people.