Cut, summarize, don’t go overtime! This is the typical mantra when you are preparing a speech. But sometimes, even in the brevity-doomed world of public speaking, miracles happen. You can speak longer. And there comes a happy problem: how do you manage time, when you have more time than usual?
Some months ago, my friends at Toastmasters Monza called me to give a presentation at a special event (*). The surprise? To explain the various roles that members cover during a Toastmasters meeting, I had [drum roll] 20 minutes. Almost three times the usual slot we have available for Toastmasters speeches.
At first, I was excited: a longer slot means you can relax, add more content, talk more. Then, I realized that I couldn’t use my go-to speech structure canvas. I have been using it for years with little changes and it works perfectly… for a 7-minute speech. Sure, I could have just multiplied every section of my structure by 3, to reach a total of 21 minutes. Instead, I opted for a different solution to manage time, slightly changing the structure to fit both the time frame and the content.
As I tend to make long introduction even in short speeches, I decided not to enlarge this section. The scope of an introduction is to present the matter and set the tone of the speech. if you can introduce your topic effectively in a couple of minutes, there is no reason to talk longer.
Regarding the body of the speech, more time gave me the opportunity to add more explanations and practical examples. For this reason, I took the three points I wanted to list and gave them double the time (approximately, depending on what each of them needed).
Add a bonus
As I wrote more than once, three is the golden number. So, why add? In this case, the first three points were focused on the basics (what, why, how we take roles during meetings). The target of this part of the content was mostly the less experienced part of the audience. Having more time to manage, I decided to add one bonus-track to appeal also to the senior listeners. Therefore, I added a what’s next: how you keep motivated once you are a pro in covering roles.
Gift-wrap the wrap-up
In the conclusion of our speech we have to summarize the main message, in a way that helps the audience to remember it. This is especially true for longer speeches, that include more content. In this case, I could manage the extra time to not only wrap up quickly the points, but also frame them. I referred back to the anecdote I told in the introduction and walked again through the process explained in the speech, to emphasize the importance of the message. So, I put together the takeaways of the presentation, so that they could be even more evident.
Even if we usually follow a well oiled speech structure, we must make sure that it is appropriate for the time frame. It is important to manage time effectively when we have more available, to avoid rambling and make every minute functional to our message.
(*) Esiste la serata perfetta? A TM Special Summer day – it was a special event organized to share best practices and tools that can help to create the perfect Toastmasters meeting. The event was in Italian. My presentation (Tutte le R in Toastmasters: Come preparare i ruoli) was a variation on the theme of the manual A Toastmasters Wears Many Hats.
(Image by Icons8 team on Unsplash)