You will never fit everything in

Here is a secret for all speakers:

“You will never fit everything in”

I have seen many presentations where the speaker says “I have three points to share”, and then about five minutes before the end, he says, “Ok, and now my second point…”. This inevitably ends up in his presentation going overtime, or on him rushing through the last two points of his presentation.
This usually happen because the speaker is desperately trying to fit everything in!

The  trick is to realise that you will not fit everything into your speech. You are going to have to figure out what is most important in your time constraints to share with your audience. No matter how interesting your topic, or how much you have to say, you will need to prune your speech.

Here are a few hints:

  • Decide which elements of your topic are most relevant to your audience, and which you are going to share.
    Know which parts of your presentation you can cut on the fly should you need to (either because your time got cut, or because you took longer than planned)
  • If you have a fixed number of points to share (eg: the 4 P’s of Powerful Presentations), allocate enough time to each point, so that you don’t need to rush at the end
  • The audience very seldom know exactly what you are going to share, so if you leave something out (unless it is really crucial to your message), nobody except yourself will know.
  • Finally practise practise practise. The more prepared you are, the better your presentation will be!

8 thoughts on “You will never fit everything in”

  1. Hi Lisa-

    That is a little bizarre, isn’t it! I wrote the article after a Toastmasters meeting, where after about 7 minutes, the speaker said “and my second point”. This was for a 5-7 minute speech.

    Strange how we said such similar things. Maybe if enough people say it, people will start to listen…


  2. Hey Craig,

    Good post. I’ve seen this happen too. Or the speaker will spend too long on the first point and then race to fit in another two in the final minute.

    I agree you cannot fit everything in. I also think that there are some speakers who don’t time themselves. I saw a guy give a great speech at the International Speech contest last year – Division Level. He got disqualified because he added more ideas to the speech and failed to time it.

    It baffles me sometimes that even in competition people don’t bother timing and just try to use their Spidey Sense.



  3. Jason

    Thanks for the comment.

    It still amazes me how this keeps on happening. Personally, I find it a simple lack of rehersal. Just running through a speech once or twice will so quickly show these errors.

    It also baffles me how a speaker at a division or district contest can still go overtime 🙂


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