In some events, getting attendees from one room to another can be similar to herding cats. These ideas may not apply to you (or maybe you’re already doing them), but if you need to educate a client on the value of strict time management, let’s consider the benefits of two of the most important elements: starting and ending on time.
>>Starting on Time
Shows Respect Starting on time, to me at least, shows respect for your audience. Starting late is a form of punishment for all the people who showed up on time, as they are now all sitting there bored.
Sets a Precedent When your events always start on time, word gets around. When your events always start late, that word gets around too, and people will plan their arrival time accordingly.
>>Ending On Time
Maintains Audience Focus “Going long” always risks squandering audience energy and focus, and even building resentment for the inconvenience it may cause.
Reinforces Crowd Expectations A schedule is a kind of contract, and if you don’t let people out when you said you would, they will feel like things are out of control. They will forever associate your event with missing the train or the flight, or having to pay the babysitter more. It may make the difference of them coming back next year.
>>Making Up for Variables
If Things Are Running Late It’s always nice to make an announcement with the new start time so people can make use of the next ten minutes in making a call or visiting the facilities.
If I’m speaking at a special event that features just me, and we must delay a start, I try to go out and acknowledge the people who made the effort to be on time. If it’s informal enough, I’ll go out and do the verbal equivalent of an overture, and not start my primary presentation until the latecomers have arrived.
To Keep Things From Running Long Impress upon presenters the value of keeping all the presentations as on schedule as possible. Help them out by putting a clock on the lectern, or having a prearranged “five minutes left” signal.
If this is a sales presentation and you manage the time poorly, one can only wonder, what else do you manage poorly? Conversely, if you show you manage time well, one can reasonably assume that you manage everything well.
Timing and pace is a big part of making an event successful. Managing the schedule and the pace is a big part of taking care of your attendees, and they will notice when you do it so much better than the usual.
Feel free to comment by sharing your timing tips, tricks and horror stories!
Justin Locke is a speaker. He likes to share hilarious “behind-the-scenes” stories of his many years of playing the bass with the Boston Pops and unique insight into the management tricks of the many famous conductors he’s played for. He is the author of Real Men Don’t Rehearse and Principles of Applied Stupidity.