CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – August 6, 2020
Gauging Whether Breaks Are Required
When you tell people to take a break, tell them exactly when you plan to start again. Fifteen minutes is a typical length for a break. The shorter presentations – those under an hour, will generally not require a break, but if the presentation edges towards an hour and a half it may well be that offering a break in the middle can be the wisest thing to do.
Although people will sit for upwards of two hours in a movie theater, there is a clear difference between a movie and a presentation. Atmospherically, dynamically and in many other ways it is much easier to sit through a film of a certain length than it is to sit through a presentation of the same length.
If you do give a break to the audience at a presentation, it is essential to specify that you will begin the presentation again at a set time and impress upon them the importance of their being back at the right time.
If people stay out beyond the allotted time for a break then it simply results in the recommencing of the presentation being delayed, and gives a very bad impression. If there are some stragglers who take a little bit more time to arrive back, then it is beneficial to simply have a short, informal conversation with the people who have arrived on time or stayed in the auditorium during the break.
This can be a good way of gauging how the presentation is being received, and allow you to get an impression for what your audience is like.
Wrapping Up and Winding Down
Sometimes a speaker will end a presentation with a question and answer session. If you do this, don’t end the presentation with your answer to the last question. It might have little to do with your main point. Instead, after you have answered the last question, say something like:
“That’s all we have time for. If there is one thing I hope you will remember from this presentation, it’s…”
Doing this will end the presentation in a neat way, and pull together the strands of the previous period of time. It will also allow you to reinforce the central point of your presentation. As people leave, thank them for attending and say goodbye to them.
If people leave the presentation on a positive note they are more likely to remember what has gone before in a positive light. Whatever else you do, you should ensure that if people have follow-up questions after the event they can address them to you in whatever way is possible.