One of the traits of a poor speaker is not accurately planning his or her talk to end on time. It must be remembered that the audience is not on your schedule. As much as you might like the limelight, it’s good to leave on an upbeat note.
If your agreement is to speak for 40-minutes and have 5 for questions, don’t think you are doing them a favor by giving more information as a bonus. 45 and off the stage! Here are some tips to accomplish this:
1. Rehearse then rehearse some more. Don’t assume you can write some notes and “wing” how long it will run.
2. Don’t trust your internal circadian rhythm to sense when your time is up; get a small analog clock and put it on the dais where you can glace at it. Don’t use your watch. The room may be too dark and it looks tacky.
3. If you get bogged down in questions, you still need to finish on time. Reply that “we are short on time, but I can meet you offstage after.” Those that have other engagements will appreciate this.
4. If you are approaching the 40 minute limit with 3 more thoughts to go on your prepared talk – just wrap it up then and end it. The audience will have no clue that you didn’t cover your last slides. Show flexibility and deliver a creative closing.