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How to talk to time and NOT too much!
July 30, 2020

In this Issue

Blah, blah, blah

Yakety-yak! Talking too much - Is that you?

Who has been to a wedding, a conference, or a meeting where there was a speaker who did not know when to stop talking?

Just when they seemed like they were about to wind down, they took one more big deep breath. And then there was more yakety-yak blah, blah.

Meanwhile there are all the tell-tale signs of an audience getting restless; people suppressing yawns, fidgeting, shuffling feet, glancing at wrist watches, covertly checking their phone for messages, rolling eyeballs ...

From hero to zero

The worst part, if you're the speaker and even fractionally aware of the impact you're having, is realizing you've robbed yourself and your listeners. You've compromised the opportunity you had to get your message across.

Your audience stopped listening several minutes back and is now resentfully plotting about how to get you to stop talking without being out-rightly rude.

Is this familiar territory?

I can tell you it does not feel good.

Gulp. Confession time. Sometimes that person has been me.

The "fixes"

Here are the "fixes". I'm still learning, but much less frequently than in the past, the hard way. (The links go to pages with more information on my site.)

Decide on your speech purpose - if the principal purpose is clear, and you know your audience, it is easier to decide and order the key points you want to cover.

Plan and outline the speech - shape it to fit the speaking time you've been allotted. Do not be tempted to try and squeeze in a couple of extra irresistible interesting examples. Go with the strongest material you have.

Rehearse - Only rehearsal let's you know how long it takes to go through your material. You'll need at least four to get to know the flow of speech. The more you know it, the more fluent you'll be and there'll be less 'um' and 'err' time, as well as less temptation to wander off track.

If you have an opportunity to rehearse in front of an audience before you deliver the speech 'for real' take it.

An audience responds and those responses need to be factored in to the overall length of your speech. If you're waiting for laughter to subside or, adding verbal asides, they take time!

Resist winging it - as in talking off the cuff without any preparation. It can be dangerous because it may lead to waffling irrelevancies. If you're asked to comment and you do not have pertinent things to say, say so without hesitation or deviation.

Yay, they love me!

The results of sticking to time:

  • Delighted surprise and respect from your audience, fellow speakers and event organizers for being succinct.

    You have not weakened your own message, hijacked the agenda, or potentially ruined anyone else's presentation by running overtime.

  • Learning to condense material to its essentials which in turn makes it more effective, and you a better speaker.

  • Feeling pleased with yourself for taking responsibility!

For more

If you're finding yourself on the wrong side of clock consistently do check out these pages:

  • Speech rate. Find out how many words to prepare to fit how fast you habitually speak and your time allowance. For example if you speak at around 120 words per minute a 5 minute speech is around 600 words.

    If you're tempted to try and fit more in by speaking faster, don't! As a strategy that will backfire. Audiences tire quickly of listening to fast speech. Read about pacing words for effectiveness instead.

  • Rehearse using a timer. Here's a very easy to use desktop version per courtesy Toastmasters International or use the timer on your phone.

The goal as Dorothy Sarnoff (1914-2008) said is to “Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.”

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What's new!

See a completed demonstration speech outline, read all sorts of speech examples

  • A sample demonstration speech outline
    If you're wondering what a completed outline looks like, wonder no more!

    The example is an outline for a 'soft skills' demonstration speech: how to leave a voice mail message. You'll find a video (audio + slides) of speech too.

  • Speech examples
    There are all sorts of differing types of speeches on that I've written to provide readers with examples.

    Now they're gathered together on one page. There's birthday speeches, eulogies, farewell, introduction ... and so on.

    Reading them can be a good starting point when you have a speech to write, and don't know how to begin.

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Where ever you are I hope you and yours are well. Stay safe, stay sane and stay put. This too, will pass.

Follow on Pinterest

If you are on Pinterest please jump over and follow there!

I share all the resources you need to write and deliver successful speeches. There’s tips, helpful guides for teachers, ESL learners, wedding speeches, and so much more. on Pinterest

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Comment, share & connect

If you've got comments, feedback or questions you're most welcome to contact me through my about me page.

If you liked this issue of Speaking-Out-Loud, please feel free to pass it on to friends or family. The site url to forward so they can subscribe is Speaking-Out-Loud.

Until next time,
Happy speaking,


PS. Did you know I offer a custom speech writing service, as well as online coaching?
You’ll get personal assistance tailored to meet your needs.

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