In the last week, I’ve seen a half dozen or more speakers run over.  It’s not a forgivable sin for a speaker to make.  Everyone has their excuses, reasons, and explanations as to why.  It doesn’t matter.  Finish on time.

But drawing attention to it is an even greater problem, because it actually focuses the audience on the one thing they value more than you — their time.  At the height of a speaker’s hubris in thinking they are due or owed the time is a query to the audience or moderator for more time.  “If you don’t mind, I’ll just finish a few minutes over.”  “Can I have just 3 more minutes of your time?”  “This is really important, may I finish my thought(s)?

No.  No.  And no.  But I can’t say that, or I look like the bad guy.  Many times, much of the audience will want you to finish.  They may love your content.  They may love you.  But someone out there almost assuredly does not, and they signed up or agreed to a time slot that you should do everything possible to meet.  As soon as you admit you can’t make your time, you are sending someone in the audience out with a bad impression.  You left the important stuff to the end and it got cut?  FAIL on your part to organize correctly.  You got rolling and didn’t cut the details out of your story(ies) and ran over.  FAIL on your part to not monitor the time.

Toastmasters has a written rule to start clapping when the time expires.  I hate this.  That’s as rude if not ruder than running over.  It’s not realistic — no one in the real world will clap you off a stage.  But they WILL check out, hold a grudge, and not invite you back.  All of those are worse than being clapped off the stage.

Time is the most important commodity we have.  Don’t assume on your audience’s.

Always finish on time.  Always.

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