In the old days of variety shows, they gave you the hook.
At the Oscars, they cue the get-off-the-stage music—and then if you keep going they cut the power to your mike.
At VanCore, longwinded speakers are “clapped down” if they go beyond their allotted time. It seems gentle, and it is. But if you’re the one at the podium, ramping up for your big finish, it can feel like being tasered.
There’s really no excuse for being taken totally by surprise when the end comes. At our club, a great big stoplight sits in the middle of the table. You can clearly see it turn from green to amber to red. Those speakers who blow right through the cautions, let’s just say we don’t want to be a pedestrian when they’re driving.
Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened to Bruce this week. He had crafted his speech with a big O. Henry twist at the midway point. Sadly, he’d miscalculated how long it would take to get to the point where things got interesting. It took all of his seven minutes. He set the table, then the busboy cleared the dishes.
Time management is a big part of public speaking, though it’s often underappreciated. Much is made of the carpentry of our presentations, the polish of our delivery. And these things are important. But it doesn’t matter if your speech is building to a supernova close the likes the world has never seen – if you screw up the timing, nobody’s going to hear it.