Meetings that Run on Time

Good Morning!

I am just getting back to posting after a very intense week at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA.  There were @ 80,000 visitors to this “Trade Only” convention for the Music Products Industry.

I was working for NAMM last week – consulting for their Professional Development offerings.  More than 10,000 people attended our free Breakfast Sessions or the quick and concise 20-minute sessions in The Idea Center on the show floor.

I am pleased to report that every session in the Idea Center started on time.  And, with one exception (the speaker finished 5 minutes early) each session concluded on time.  What is the secret?  And how can you achieve similar results with your meetings?

The secret is really simple – communicate your expectations to the presenter up-front!

Since we only had 10 minutes to change sets and move audiences in and out between sessions, this communication with each speaker was critical!

The key to starting each session on time – simple.  I made an announcement that the next session would be starting in 2 minutes and that this was an opportunity for the audience to get comfortable with the volume of their headsets.  This also prepared the speaker to gather his or her final thoughts before starting their presentation.

During the break between sessions, I told each speaker that I would cue them when they have 5 minutes and 3 minutes remaining in their 30-minute presentation.  As a speaker myself, I always appreciate having someone from the association give me this warning.  It is important to end your presentation with a strong message – and a clear direction to the audience as to the next step to take.

Some of the speakers wanted to do Questions & Answers ( Q & A) and so the 5-minute warning served as their cue to initiate this portion of their presentation.

The few professional speakers that we engaged, carried special clocks or other devices to alert them as to the amount of time elapsed / remaining in their presentation.  I recommend that meeting leaders and facilitators have a clock or timer in clear view during meetings.  This helps to guide the pace of the meeting and it helps to ensure that the meeting adheres to the schedule stated on the agenda.

Once again, if you – as the meeting organizer or leader – have communicated your expectations in advance, most people will comply.  The will stick with the time limits that have been set and adjust their presentation accordingly.

A special tip for all speakers or presenters:

Time can fly by when you are giving a speech or making a presentation.  Quite often, the meeting is running behind schedule and you will find that you suddenly have less time to speak than you had planned for.

Always, have the last 3 minutes of your presentation memorized and internalized!  Be prepared to deliver your concluding remarks with power and precision at a moment's notice.  Remind your audience of you message.  Be sure to tell them what to do next.

It is easy to spot an inexperienced speaker – they always say, “Well, we are running out of time.  If I had more time I would have told you…”  Do NOT do this – ever!  It is unprofessional and avoidable.

Just conclude your presentation with a strong ending.  If you have captured their attention, the audience will seek you out later to ask questions,  Or… better yet, invite you back to communicate more information to the group.

Make a lasting impression – finish strong!

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