Training Series #4 – More Research & Tips for Timing Presentations

More Research!

There Are EVEN MORE Key Questions to Answer for Designing Successful Training and Speech Content! Sob!
emoji crying Cheer Up!
Let’s Get Going! What Is Your

The word "Strategy" with each letter written on sticky notes - about questions


Well, it helps if you can speak clearly and engage your audience, too, but timing counts a lot.

green #1 in Black buttonStep One: What Are You Forgetting?

business figure working at desk with wastebasket fullMore Questions? More Research? Ha!

Yes, there is more to think about before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Furthermore, unless you are an authoritarian dictator with weapons and an army, the amount of time you actually have for the substance of your presentation can be far less than that which was given to you as “the time slot.” To start, let’s pretend you reviewed Training Series ~

  • #1 (training scope and variables)
  •  #2 (venue attributes as they affect your presentation)
  •  #3 (time-consumers: amenities, protocols, introductions, politics, food, etc.).

However, after contemplating all those elements plus the following dynamics, you still may have to do more research before creating content. Note: Tips about Content Creation are in #5 of this Training Series.

It’s as Easy as the numbers, 1,2, and 3 on colorful backgrounds

But It Takes Time to Do More Research!

Think About These Things

In fact, you might need to finish Step Two (below) before refining the exact approach and title for your topic. Some, but not all, segments of the following conversation are an elaboration on what you found in the Checklist Chart. We’re going to talk about:

  • Things we usually forget to consider that often interfere with the time you have to present your session. (Contingency Planning) + (Tips for Timing Your Presentations)
  • “Up close and personal” details about your audience, co-hosts, fellow panelists, and how they feel about you or the subject.
  • Keeping participants AWAKE.
  • Use of content and images that are copyrighted. Use of content and images that require permission from audience, sponsors, hosts, etc.
  • Ways of handling Q & A and Evaluations.
  • The kinds of media in which your presentation will be created and how it is to be distributed, marketed, and advertised. (Advance planning will save you time and effort, and you can incorporate some of it into the content of your presentations.)

First, let’s do “Step Two.”

green numeral 2 on black buttonStep Two: Conduct More Research and Plan Your Options for These Important Contingencies

Tic Toc – It’s All About Time, Timing, and Being Timely

round table designed as a blue clock with chairs around it

We’ve kind of answered the who, what, where, when, and why, but for how long will you speak? Again, you have a “time slot,” but the actual substantive presentation period often is much shorter. We’ll start with

  1. getting there (to the venue) and contingencies
  2. being there (at the podium) and contingencies
  3.  physically timing your presentation

Think about time allotments for every task.


When Logistics Go Cuckoo

Image of Plane, Train, Automobile

figure of businessman in a black suit with red tie flying over his shoulder as he runs with a briefcase trying not to be lateHave you figured out your transportation and estimated travel time per the chart I gave you in Training Series #2? Is it Suzy Q or Left-Brained Larry who will pick you up at the airport or drive supplies to the site?  AND:

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  • What is your backup plan (for a canceled flight, missed ride, dead car battery, traffic delays, etc.)?
  • Do you have a shortened version of your presentation?
  • Do you, at least, have an outline that helps you quickly see what elements you could skip or on which you can spend less time without ruining the talk?
  • In a training class, are there ice breakers or exercises you can forego to ensure you are able to give the most critical material to the participants?


The Sound and the Fury …

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Make Inquiries of Yourself!

  • Have you allowed time for testing sound and recording systems?
  • Do you have a backup system if a recording is required, but the main system fails?
  • Have you obtained permission (and, perhaps, signed releases) to use audio / visual content and images of the participants, hosts, etc.?
  • If signed releases are what you need to be in compliance with laws, regulations, or policies, how are you going to obtain them?
    • In person?
    • Assign that task to someone else?
    • Do it electronically?
    • In advance or at the event?
    • Do you have the necessary forms?

Recording sign on microphone before content of class begins

Opening Gambits ~ Questions for You

colorful watches

What to Do About Those Habitual Late-Comers…

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Have you allowed time for unplanned late arrivals (presenters and participants), or are you just going to lock the door and refuse late-comers entry? Some people do that, ya know!

Make your policy clear “upfront” in announcements, distributed materials, and, when appropriate, at the beginning of the event if there are multiple sessions.

figure draped across red international symbol for prohibited (circle with a line through it)

Halt! Who goes there? Oh no you don’t! Respect my time!

Participant Introductions?

gold question markfigures talking as they sit around a conference table.

We covered the vagaries of introducing VIPs in Training Series #3 about Amenities and Protocols. If you need to, please refresh your memory about what is involved as it may affect your decision here.

Will you “go around the room” and allow participants to introduce themselves (and perhaps tell a little about themselves or their businesses)? That always takes more time than you have planned unless you are an expert at facilitating.

You can start by giving an example of how brief you want them to be. “Name, Rank, and Serial Number.” However, you may have to remind them, as some people digress endlessly.

men and women business people holding brief casesIf you want to create a collaborative group, you might allow more leeway in time and also design the opening around what they are to accomplish. For example, “Please give us your name and position in the company. Then tell us about your background in software conversions.

Are They Gonna “Pluck Your Last Nerve?”

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figure walking while textingHave you allowed time for silencing phones, squirming, and an end to chatter?

  • This is an annoying time-consumption period – especially when attendees are coming from another room where presentations or food are provided.
  • Assembling the participants can be challenging, so you may wish to assign helpers for this task before you conduct a session.

Enjoy! Gift CardNo help? Factor it into your timing. Consider incentives for being on time – like raffles, or a giveaway for a free meal, or whatever kind of gift might best appeal to your audience.

Are You Going to Offer Special Deals or Products? You Have More Research to Do!

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  • icon seal sign button shield star with the words "Hot Offers"Will you do a brief promotion at the beginning, middle, or end of the session?
  • When you’ve contracted to do presentations for a company, have you asked whether (and maybe gotten it in writing that) promoting your goods and services is allowed?
  • If you’re selling books or other things at the presentation, what does that entail in terms of time, money, staffing, logistics, setup, and strike?
Questions About Sales, Displays, Processes and Volume May Require Additional Research

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stack of DVD'sAre you going to have books, CD’s, DVD’s, Thumb Drives, and other items to be sold?

  • Where will they bestack of books for sale stored before, during, and after?
  • Who will set up the displays?
  • Who will do the actual selling?
  • Do you need to set up a computer, Square, etc. for online payments? Do you have staff to handle this, or is it part of the time constraints on you?
  • Are you providing receipts? Do you HAVE receipts?
  • Will you need a cash drawer? Do you HAVE a cash drawer?
  • What process will you use to account for the money? You may need to research requirements if the money and these processes will be audited.
  • If you are splitting gate fees, sales, or commissions with one or more others on site, how are you going to handle the agreement on the amounts due and what is your process for paying them? Will you do it before you leave? Will there be an electronic accounting and payment later?
  • What is the process and price for paying someone to handle these details for you?

Research Your Options for When Technology Goes Kerflooey!

business woman punching computer screenYes, you are planning for the exigencies listed above. Great! Well, how ’bout this: have you allowed for what to do when the projector bulb breaks or you cannot access the Internet?

Create Contingency Plans While You Create Content!


figure at copier making photocopies

  • (I take hard copies of my presentations, even if I expect never to use them, just in case the electricity goes out or the equipment doesn’t work.) 
  • In terms of content creation, I also usually give copies of the outline or presentation to the participants. At the beginning of my talk or class, I tell them I’ll do this, so they don’t have to take copious notes, and they’ll be able to have a memory jogger plus references for all the things I covered.
  • Of course, I do NOT give them copies of other people’s copyrighted work unless I have permission to share the material I’ve been able to use.

Employ Your Backup Plan Fairly Quickly

red boxing glove comes through computer screen and punches businessman in the face. Technology is not working in his class.Trying to make something work, finally giving up, and then punting uses up valuable minutes!

purple thought balloon with OMG! in the center!It also costs you in terms of reputation, attentiveness of the participants, and some people will leave if they feel their time is being wasted.

Is Your Presentation Interactive? If Yes, Can You Speed Things Up With Software?

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How much time must you spend on “housekeeping?” (Directions to the bathrooms, arrangements for refreshments, silencing cell phones, wearing badges, etc.) Can you save time by using infographics (yours or mine)?

Infographics - Break Sticky Note Breakout Sessions

Even Use of Supplies May Require Inquiries

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cup with pens and pencils

  • Do you need a few minutes during the presentation to hand out materials or pencils and clipboards? It always takes longer than you think it will.
  • Does the venue supply these items, or must you?
  • Can you leave materials on or under the seats before the presentation to save valuable minutes?

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two figures emerging from laptops and shaking hands from the screens of their laptopsAre there things you can do interactively with students online, rather than with pen and paper or other items that must be collected? Do you have the interactive software needed to get immediate audience responses or other input? Click Here to see a comparison of ten applications.

Keeping Them Awake

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man falls asleep in front of computer on desk

Having mentioned this previously, I include it here as a reminder. Have you allowed time for a stretch or coffee break to keep people’s attention?

Do you want to use infographics to announce a timeout for this activity? They can be useful in long-term training, conferences, or retreats as you establish schedules and agendas.

infographic for ice breaker

Planning for Questions

(Online and In-Person)

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attendees sit in a circle and raise hands when they can answer questions

Many presentations these days are a combination of Zoom (or other platform) meetings with an additional in-person audience.

Will you provide a formal question and answer period in the end, and/or will you take questions during the talk? We’ll talk more about this in the Training Series #5 about Content Development. You can use your own or some of Nancy’s Novelty Infographics to give instructions.

infographics about putting comments and questions in the Chat box

Note Cards or Trips Down the Aisle?

blue FAQ (frequently asked questions) button on keyboardMight you require that participants submit questions on notecards to be brought to the podium? What arrangements must be made for that? Are we talking pen and paper, or could it be done electronically?

figure speaking into a microphone

  • Will people have to travel down the aisles to get to a microphone to pose questions to you?
  • Who will staff the handling of the microphones?
  • Who will get the mics to work in the first place? Where are they kept? Do you have a key to their storage area?

What If … No Questions During the Presentation

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universal "prohibited" sign

If you won’t entertain questions during the presentation, will you stay for questions afterward? Have you allowed time for the latter, as well as for packing up your stuff, as you contemplate your transportation departure arrangements?

Do You Need Time for Group Reports After Breakout Sessions or for Evaluations at the End?

Do You Have to Wait for Other Speakers to Do Something Before You Can?

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thumbs up, thumbs downDid you allow time for people to fill out and return evaluations? Do you have someone who can collect them for you while you talk with members of the audience?

Green keyboard key says Feedback

Again, what about using Interactive Software? Statistics demonstrate that participants are far more likely to give you feedback if they do it while still “in the room.” The return is far less if they take away forms to fill out later. Later never happens.

Question: Will You Issue Certificates, Awards, Gifts, Raffle Items?

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Did you factor in time to sign and distribute certificates of completion or calculations of CEU’s, if applicable? What about awards or gifts, etc.?

Smiley Face - Graduation cap

Do You Need Time for Clean-up?

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woman with cleaning suppliesAre you responsible for cleanup? Do you have to wait until other speakers perform before you can do that work? How does that affect your schedule in terms of travel, your health regimen, your next Zoom meeting, or date with your kids or loved one?

Tips for Timing Your Presentation

figure at white board presenting to audience

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How Fast Do or Should You Talk?

Here are Factors to Consider.

Many people (especially when they feel nervous) speak much faster when presenting than they did while reading their presentations to themselves.

full-length figure looking at self in mirror

Practice in front of a volunteer audience (or even one person) if you can. You also could practice in front of a mirror, but feedback from others is preferable.

Time Yourself

Time yourself. You’ll be amazed at the actual minutes and seconds it takes, per page of a presentation, when you are saying things aloud, versus reading them on your computer, smartphone, or hard copy notes.

stopwatchYou may find that there is a typical amount of time per page that it takes you to present material. It then becomes easier to estimate the length of your talk by multiplying the number of pages times that average amount of time.

Add additional minutes for breaks, questions, breakout group exercises, videos, etc. This provides a good “guesstimate,” so you know whether you must cut back on or add more material.

One More Time! Who Is Your Audience?

seated figures talking in a circleOnce again, consider your audience. If you are presenting highly technical subject matter to lay people or are speaking in a language to an audience of people for whom that is not their native language, you could help them by speaking more slowly and distinctly than you probably do normally.

FOCUS – Don’t Wander

True story: I once knew a preacher of whom his parishioner said, “I don’t have to worry about letting my mind wander all over the place during sermons, because (the preacher) does it for me.”

portrait of woman yawning over boring contentSpeakers routinely wander off topic or feel they must “go there” in response to audience questions or reactions. This eats up valuable time. An outline may help you get back on topic to ensure you don’t run out of time before you’ve made the main points.

Enuff About “More Research” Already!

Okay, People. Thank you for your patience! I can’t promise there won’t be more questions for you to ask and answer. However, the next article in the series will be all about writing content.

No More  Research Before Working on Writing Content!


I promise that – if I think of more things to consider before you start writing the speech – I won’t add a new page. I’ll go back and put it into one of the series articles I’ve already done and repost that segment.

Please come back to “get into the weeds” or contact me with your questions. Remember, you can do training, teach, and give presentations yourself, or you can outsource it. I create, edit, and review content, as well as providing classes, training, and speeches. How may I help you? Please put “Training Inquiry” in the subject line or state that if you have to leave a voicemail message. Thank you.

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Did You Find “More Research” Useful?

I hope you found the discussion of more research to be helpful, and I’d be happy to answer any questions. Email me at, and please put “Training Amenities and Protocols” into the subject line. Thank you and best wishes for success in your event!

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