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Column #7:  Pacing  (part 1)

  Q  One of my real struggles is when I'm told to speak for a specific amount of time, like 40 minutes.  I'm comfortable outlining and delivering material but I'm terrible at guessing if it’s 30 or 50 minutes there.  Ideas?          

                                − J.R., San Diego, CA 
     

 

To me, this is one of the toughest struggles of putting together a new program.  Even with a speech I've done numerous times, many factors can cut into my time of actually speaking, such as audience reaction, delayed start times, technical glitches, an overactive introducer, or speaking differently than I rehearsed.  Likewise, if you try to count on such occurrences, that will be the day that none of them happen and you’ll end up short on material.  

This is where pacing tools can be your friend.  Pacing  tools are factors that you can vary to make your program longer or shorter on the fly instead of even trying to get your program to an exact number in advance…and then praying you were right!  Let’s look at a few of them:

Q&A:  One of the simplest and most common places to pad or cut time is through Q&A.  The caution here is that if you save it as your very last moment, you could be stuck with no questions, a deafening silence, and extra time.  But if you don’t make it last, you can use it to some degree in conjunction with other pacing tools you have more control over.

Story Length:  End on a story that you can tell in its full version or a shortened one.  The audience won’t know they got a 2 minute version of a 5 minute story so long as you cover the basics. 

In my keynote about speaking skills, I retell my opening story in about 20 seconds to show that I can still get the point across.  It lacks any flair and all of the humor and sweetness of the version they first heard, but it quickly demonstrates how one can easily get three or four minutes back. 

If you’re on for most of an hour, have a few stories like this in the latter half so you can catch up a bit instead of putting all the cutting on your finale.


There are more techniques than I can fit here, so we’ll continue this topic in my next column
.
 
Milo Shapiro, interactive motivational speaker and
speaking coach/trainer, is the author of
“Public Speaking: Get A’s, Not Zzzzzz’s!”  

More on Milo’s coaching & training
at www.PublicDynamics.com
and as a speaker/teambuilder at www.IMPROVentures.com

Click to see a free preview and/or buy a copy of
“Public Speaking: Get A’s, Not Zzzzzz’s!”

 

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A favorite coaching testimonial:

 

Testimonial from Dr. John Jenrette,
CEO, Sharp Community Medical Group

        "I’ve participated in many programs on speaking skills over the years, but this was my first time trying individual executive coaching on the topic − and what a difference!  Your working directly with me advanced my knowledge and abilities to a level that group lessons never could.

         "The one-on-one approach allowed you to focus solely in areas where I needed development as a CEO speaking to my organization.  Together, we determined areas in which growth would benefit me and you tailored exercises directly relevant to programs that I give, setting that growth in motion.

        "The most definitive moments of payoff were after you worked with me on specific upcoming programs.  Your ability to help me find more powerful words, streamline my ideas more effectively, build stories with strong imagery, and communicate the final speech in a dynamic style is making an impact on my audiences.  After my presentation this week, I had two doctors came up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed my presentation.  Doctors!  A tough bunch to impress! 

         "I had confided in a colleague that I'd hired a coach.  The day after the presentation, he approached me to say he’s seen a noticeable improvement in the quality of both my material and performance.  He also said he could see that audience’s attention was decidedly stronger than in the past. "

         (Please click to see the whole letter from Mr. Jenrette)

 


Here's an email from Dr. Jenrette six months later:

 

Milo,

I am getting great feedback at my most recent talks and lots of questions on how I did this.

Today I presented at the Sharp Leadership conference to tell people how I was a “Learning Leader".  I told the story of how I wanted to improve my presentation skills and how I hired a speaking coach with improv skills and demonstrated some of what I learned and gave a hugely successful presentation.

Mike Murphy, the CEO of Sharp HealthCare, told me there are going to be lots of people who want to find out who I worked with and there were lots of congratulations afterward.

Our Director of the Six Sigma team here at Sharp HealthCare texted me (during the meeting!) and he has been looking for a way to improve his team of black belts on presentation skills, facilitating their work groups, etc., but he had not found anything very innovative. He and I talked after the meeting and you'll be hearing from him soon!

Thanks again, Milo and I have a feeling there will be more interest coming from Sharp.   Happy to let you know that we're already working on bringing you in to give your keynote "Public Speaking: Get A's, Not Zzzzzz's!" for a larger group so we can gauge interest in more coaching around Sharp.  Hope you have time in December for that.

John E. Jenrette MD

John E. Jenrette MD

Chief Executive & Medical Officer

Sharp Community Medical Group

 

 

 
 

 

Coaching Praised by:

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Also, coaching to other professional speakers like:

Vilis Ozols
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Liz Goodgold
Jennifer Sedlock
Kara Sadler
Colette Carlson
Barbara Sanfillippo
 

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