One of my pet peeves is the constant referrals to time that speakers make. As a rule of thumb, I advocate that the only person in the room who should know about time is the speaker. I frequently hear things like, “Well, I’ve only got a few minutes left…” or “since I’m short on time…“. I’ve seen speakers take two minutes to explain why they’re short on time. I’d rather have two minutes of content. And then just end. I don’t need to know if you’re running behind or ahead. Just give me the content that means something to me and quit. I don’t need to be notified of your selfish problems.The flip side is that in a keynote situation, every basically knows what the schedule is and when the deadline starts to loom, people get fidgety. In an ideal world (and message), they are so glued to what is being said it would come as a surprise that the time is winding down. I don’t typically live in an ideal world and bet you don’t, either. So what to do?I heard a speaker last week use one of those hip pocket phrases that I thought was creative. While his entry into it was not what I espouse (something along the lines of “As I begin to close…“), it was as if he read my mind (he had no idea who I was or that I was even in the audience, which numbered thousands) and immediately said “You should probably know that I close gradually — I’ve still got a lot to say…” It garnered a laugh, made the audience aware that he was aware, but also avoided the bane of the speaker — an audience that has checked out. While I’d prefer speakers to not even talk about time, it was a nice recovery and way to let folks know that a little more attention was necessary and expected.

Don’t pre-announce the ending — as soon as you do, you’ve ended for all intents and purposes.

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