Well to my mind, it’s to overrun.
Time is our most precious commodity. You can’t make or earn more and once it has gone it can’t be replaced.
Which means that as a speaker if you take more time than allotted you are saying that you don’t think that the audience’s time is important. And if you are speaking at a conference or event then you don’t think much about those who are due to speak after you either.
And usually, if you overrun, you might as well have stopped speaking because your audience has started to switch off, and is now thinking about why you are taking longer than you (or the programme) said you would … not about your topic.
This is true if you are delivering a magical minute at a networking event or an hour long presentation to a client. If you want people to really listen, then finish before you said you would!
According to author Steve Bridger who wrote the book Transform Your Communication Skills (to which we contributed) you can speak at approximately 120 – 160 words per minute.
Remember that’s an average. If you have a lot of complicated material to talk through or you are delivering a particularly difficult message which needs a certain element of gravitas you will (I hope) speak more slowly.
For the majority of our clients I would say that their average is really closer to 120 – 140. And if you are talking over a longer period you also need to factor that you may be interrupted with questions and comments, so build in a buffer. No one will ever be upset that you finished a minute or two sooner than you said!
If you take less time than you said not only are you saying I can be concise and keep to time … you are also saying I respect you and understand that your time is precious! And that’s got to be good whoever your audience is.
Remember, if you know what you want to say but want to present more effectively give me a call to see how we can help.