It’s all about timing

A friend of mine has a favorite (two-part) joke:

What’sthedifferencebetweenagoodjokeandabadjoke?Timing.

What’s the difference between a good joke and a bad joke?
……………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………….
………………………………………. Timing.

Any good joke relies on a combination of set-up, punchline, and timing.  Some jokes need very little comedic timing, some need a lot.  Very few need none.  Slide-show based presentations are no different.

Most people think they have a clear sense of how long to talk about a particular issue before moving on.  They’re probably wrong.  In a ten-minute presentation, it’s better to have thirty slides set on a timer than eight slides without a timer (and it’s probably better to make a eight-minute slide show with 25 slides, than have your audience of clients looking at their watches).

Putting your slides on a timer tells your audience three things:

  1. You have planned this presentation to take a certain amount of time;
  2. You have practiced this presentation enough that you’re confident of your content; and
  3. You know that your speech is not about you, but about your content.

In a timed presentation, you can’t suddenly change your mind about the important content; you are showing your audience that you care about them, that you’ve thought about their issue carefully, and you’ve identified certain content as being of particular value.  You’ve practiced sharing your insights with them, too.  And you know that the information they need is not so much about you.

You have, in other words, put your audience first.  You’re prepared to show them that you know their issue clearly and cleanly.  You have information to share with them.  And thus they’re less likely to interrupt in the middle of your talk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *