Pace, as a Professional Conference and Event MC, I’m fortunate to see my fair share of speakers and whilst I fundamentally believe that there are times during your presentation when a fast pace serves you well (i.e. to rev the crowd up and/or get people really excited) a rapid pace is not sustainable for the duration of a presentation, especially for your audience.
Pace has its place, take commentating a horse race where in lieu of significant action early on - the speaker will generally start out slow and build pace as the race evolves, reaching maximum energy & speaking pace as the race reaches its crescendo. Importantly any professional speaker will alter continuously adjust and change their pace throughout their perch or presentation - and so should you.
I’ve found at conferences when speakers slow things down, and at the right time slow it right down, the audience tends to be hanging of the speakers every word. So be courageous and consider slowing it down - the results will surprise you.
3 key reasons people rush when presenting or public speaking
It’s natural to get nervous when your presenting or Public Speaking - whether you’re speaking at a Business Conference, you’re in the bridal party at a wedding or hosting clients in business presentation, nerves quite often creep in and the nervous energy can lead us to race through our speeches.
- Keep an eye out for this.
2.Running out of time
As a conference MC I’ll often notice keynote speakers’ glance at the time clock, pause, then continue their speech at an accelerated rate. I get it, there’s plenty to consider when delivering a keynote – but time should be right up there with delivery method and content. Let’s face it, the best speaker in history delivering the most amazing speech will still fall flay on their face if they’re given 5 minutes to deliver their 1 hour speech and only realise this 4 mins into….
Keep tabs on time - the earlier you realise you’re behind the easier it is to adjust!!!
If you notice you’re running behind it’s a natural to think “I've got 15 minutes of material to cover in 5 minutes” so mathematically if you race through your material, you might just get there…
Beware you might as well not speak as the audience will tune out if you begin racing through your material. Instead consider slowing down, recapping what your key takeaways are and driving home the important points you want the audience to take away.
When running low on time
- NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER Rush through your slides to finish on time!
- Consider your ‘WHY’ - what’s the key message(s) you’re looking for the audience to takeaway - reiterate this and that should be at the forefront when considering what information to present in the valuable time you have left
- Throw to the audience involved and get their feedback as to what they’d like you to cover in this last section of your presentation
PRO TIP: Avoid eating into your Q&A time. Q&A really helps the audience to; clarify your key messages, seek additional information you may have left out and this two way interaction really boosts the quality of your presentation - after all we wish to speak with our audiences - not to them.
I would strongly suggest to practice, practice, practice (see the talking tip below on that) and nail your time - as a Conference Master of Ceremonies one of the questions I ask all my speakers is “you’ve got X minutes, how long will you use” and the professional speakers generally know this down to the minute - Know your timing.
To control your pace self-awareness is the key - advice from trusted advisers in your audience, ask your MC, practice adequately beforehand, record yourself during rehearsals and whilst on stage presenting and know that you’ll likely speak faster on stage.
About the Author
Luke Hannan is one of Australia’s most Experienced, Energetic and Engaging Professional Conference and Event MCs who truly understands what it takes to connect during conversation.
As a Professional Moderator, Luke knows how to connect you with your audience, uncovering deep and meaningful insights that give life to Rich Conversation. With a real focus on interactivity and engagement, Luke will ensure your next discussion is robust, power packed and flows smoothly throughout.
Across his career Luke has partnered with clients such as Westpac, Google, IBM, BUPA, CPA Australia, Dell, Oracle, SAP and Citrix to deliver over 800 seamless live and virtual events and Luke also runs Public Speaking and Presentation workshops, helping Schools, Companies and Individuals accelerate the development of their communication skills.
Luke has an MBA from the University of Technology Sydney plus held Senior Project and Risk Positions in a Banking and Finance Career spanning more than 20 years and travels from Sydney where he lives with his Wife and 3 Children in and loves Trail Running, Playing the Piano, and Motorsport.