6 Steps to Staying On Time in a Presentation

Written by Ellie Thien

August 30, 2017


You’re moving through your presentation and notice you’re cutting it close on time. It’s probably fine just to go over a few minutes to wrap up, right? Wrong. If you’ve been given a certain amount of time to make a presentation, it is essential you stick to it. If you tend to cut it close or run over your time, learn to stay within your limits for the sake of yourself and the audience.

Why does it matter?

It’s important to stay within your allotted time if you want to show respect for your audience and those who invited you to speak. Additionally, you’ll lose the audience’s attention if you go over time or cut it too close. If you’re speaking for an hour, by minute 58, the audience is getting antsy for a wrap up. If the presentation goes over, you risk them checking out completely or even leaving. Meanwhile, you’re delivering a great takeaway that has now been missed.

So how do I stay on time?

Follow these 6 steps before and during your presentation to make sure you are staying on time and that your audience is remaining engaged and excited:

  1. Know the time limit.

    Check with the person who invited you and plan accordingly.

  2. Time each section of your presentation.

    Knowing how long the intro, main points, conclusion, Q&A, breaks, and activities are helps you keep track throughout the presentation.

  3. Summarize your points. 

    Practice condensing your main points into a few sentences. Then, if you’re cutting it close, you can present your information concisely without having to cut anything out.

  4. Rehearse. 

    Practice your presentation out loud and in a setting as similar to the actual as possible. If you go over in practice, you’ll go over in real time.

  5. Start on time. 

    Every moment is important when you’re on a schedule. Don’t waste time setting up the PowerPoint or adjusting the microphone – do all of that before your time slot!

  6. Watch the clock.

    Keep an eye on the time by having a clock visible that you can easily check without being too distracting.