Getting your timing wrong in a speech is not an issue that concerns the clock. It rather has to do with poor planning throughout. Why is it advisable to carefully stay within your timing limits as a speaker? Discovering that you are struggling to get your information out in the allotted time (or to make it last the distance) eats away at your composure as a speaker. It is just another thing that adds to the stress of the moment, something you don’t need when you are speaking before a group of people. Those listening are also made uneasy. They may pick up on your panic, or may have concerns of their own. Perhaps they need to leave promptly after the program to catch public transport or meet another appointment. Your conclusion will suffer the most. Situated at the end of your speech, this is the usual section of your speech to bear the brunt of last minute editing in an effort to stay close to time. Without proper time devoted to your conclusion, your speech will appear unfinished and lack the exhortation that your audience will expect. While those listening to you are looking at their watches they are missing out on what you say. Your carefully prepared material is receiving only scant attention due to the distraction of the ticking of the clock. Mercilessly powering on while the minutes pass you by is a sure way to tell the audience how little you value them. Speakers who consistently go overtime have little regard for the people in attendance. They no doubt also have important things to be getting on with, and imposing on their time to finish your speech shows contempt for them personally. You display a lack of respect for the other speakers on the program. The chairperson will no doubt require that they make adjustments in their speeches to keep the program on time. Do not make enemies for yourself so unnecessarily. What are typical reasons behind a tendency to run over or under time? Too much information. If you can’t say it in the time allotted then you should leave it out. The audience will never miss it. Leave it unsaid. Limit the number of main points you make so as to give yourself enough time to develop them each properly. Lack of preparation. Know exactly what you mean to say. Know the material well. Don’t just sit down and gather information to present, carefully prepare your delivery as well. Use a stopwatch. Practice the presentation of your speech. Rehearse it repeatedly until it can be presented in time. Get a feeling of where you should be in your speech outline at different stages of time in your presentation. How may a consistent problem with timing be overcome? Prepare the presentation of your speech. Don’t be content to just assemble information as your only form of preparation. Use an outline. This logical organisation of information helps you to rank your points in order of importance. Main points have obvious precedence on the outline over the indented sub-points. If you are running short of time you can see at a glance what is only secondary information on your outline and delete it as necessary. Make notes on your outline of the necessary timing progression. Tell yourself right there on the outline where you should be in your speech after every 5 minutes. Pace yourself and stick to your timing plan. Use a stopwatch. Take it up there with you and set it just as you start speaking. Looking at a wall-clock can be confusing if you are trying to concentrate on your material. Rehearse with the stopwatch so that it becomes familiar to you. Timing is an issue that has pertinence to every section of your speech. Excerpt From: Mark Porter. “The Way With Words.” iBooks. This discussion is continued in detail in “The Way With Words”, by Mark Porter.