Halfway through a recent three-hour presentation, I was asked to finish thirty minutes earlier than planned. No, it wasn’t that the group was bored, but instead that a critical, unexpected matter had arisen that my client needed to discuss with the group. I pride myself on being flexible and so, of course, said “yes.” Immediately, my mind began scanning through my presentation slides to decide which I could skip without shorting my participants.
It is very common for presenters to have more material than fits the time they have available. This may be due to:
If this ever happens to you, the worse thing that you can do is begin quickly forwarding through slides and saying “Sorry, but I am running out of time and can’t talk about that.” Your audience will cycle through a series of emotions you don’t want - confused, stressed, disappointed and short-changed.
Instead, make friends with the Freeze button on your projector remote! This little, often-ignored button, has a highly valuable role to play in a slide-based presentation. When you press it, the slide that is currently projected will freeze, or stay on your screen until you press the button again. This allows you to then go into your Keynote or PowerPoint file and skip, change, add or delete slides without your audience witnessing your changes. To give myself a chance to do this, I might ask my participants to turn to a colleague nearby and discuss my last idea. In just a minute or two I can freeze, make changes, and unfreeze, ready to go again with my audience being unaware of what I have eliminated.
For more ideas, check out Caffeinated Learning: How to Design and Conduct Rich, Robust Professional Training.
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Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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