Following up yesterday’s post about how to manage time in a speech/class/workshop, I was reminded of another tactic that has bad results.Multi-day classes are one of the greatest opportunities to manage time well. The speaker gets a rest midway through and a chance to calculate how well things are going. Time can easily be adjusted and there should be ample opportunity for student involvement. I’ve long practiced and taught to build a buffer into the schedule (if I INTEND to be done at 430pm, then I schedule class until 500pm. I’ll usually run over, but it feels like we’re done early to the student.) Since classes are almost always in half-day increments, this could leave a good bit of buffer time.What do you say to the class about the schedule?I recently watched a trainer announce at 910am (first thing) that “we’ll be easily done by 4:30 today.” And several times in day 1 and again in day 2 announced, “We should finish by 330pm tomorrow.” Since there were several folks from out-of-town, this could be looked at as a nice gesture for their scheduling. But looked at another way, you have now obligated yourself to finishing on time (and the class in question did not hit the expected departure time, and it was for all the right reasons — questions and discussion). Just omitting any mention of time would have had the class feeling like they’d got an early Christmas present — an extra hour of their lives. But the mere mention of “getting out early” sets an expectation that is difficult to renege on. It’s best to avoid mentioning the time at all, and surprising people if things go smoothly and an early release is possible.And what about the inevitable “Are we going to get out early?” or “What time will we end/break?” My standard response is, “I’m not that good to know when we’ll break for lunch, but it will be noon, plus or minus thirty minutes” and “I can say with confidence we won’t go PAST 5 o’clock.” If they press, I give them permission to leave at any time and handle anything that requires their attention. Problem solved.These techniques go for meetings as well. Publishing a meeting agenda with times on it (or a class schedule with times on it) sets expectations you may not wish your audience to have.
The only person in the room who should know the schedule by the minute is the instructor/facilitator.