How much time should I spend on my presentations?
This is the wrong question to ask.
A better question to start with would be “What kind of presentation do I need to give? Is this a utility presentation, one I’ve give loads of time and am already familiar with? Or am I creating an entirely new piece of art?”
Another good question would be to ask “what do I need to do to get my message across?”
So many of us spend hours agonizing over trivial phrasings in an email, or wordsmithing minutiae in a report. Yet we balk at spending the time to dig deeply into the content of our presentations, making the tough decisions about what’s the best information and then doggedly editing out what’s merely good.We spend hours agonizing over emails and wordsmithing reports, yet we balk at the time needed to craft a presentation. #presentations #business Click To Tweet
We give the creation of our slide decks with the same focus we would give making a PB&J sandwich for a hungry 5-year-old – slap the ingredients together as quickly as possible, it doesn’t really matter what it looks like as long as it`s something.
And we won’t bother with meaningful practice, because the phone call or impromptu meeting or bleating email is much more urgent (and less uncomfortable) than standing up and practicing your talk out loud. So instead we say “I got busy, but that’s ok…I’ll just wing it.”
The amount of time you should spend on a presentation is going to depend on how much you need to chew and mull over your message and content, how much impact you want your visuals to add, how descriptive your stories need to be, how airtight you need to make your arguments. It’s going to depend on how frequently you’ve presented on this topic before. It will depend on whether your muses are whispering to you or not.
I’ve spent more than 20 hours preparing a 5 minute speech, because the topic was difficult and complicated and I needed to practice saying certain lines just so. On the other hand, I’ve created 3 hour workshops in an 8 hour blitz, as though it dropped into my head fully formed, complete with jokes, visuals, and activities.
Most of the time, it’s somewhere in between.
It should take you more time than an email, and less time than a book.
But the important thing to remember is that it Will. Take. Time.
And I get it – you’re busy. There are so many people who need so many things from you. You have deadlines and deliverables tugging at you. There are meetings to attend, calls to make, dinner to cook.
But none of those things let you off the hook. It simply means that you need to find ways of warping time, making trade offs where necessary and looking at creative solutions. So you call off a meeting or two, don’t take that unexpected phone call, and order in dinner. You stretch time by practicing during your commute (you’re stuck in traffic anyway). You borrow someone else’s time by getting help from that co-worker who has a knack for finding just the right picture to put in your slide deck.
You’re not making a sandwich for a hungry toddler. You’re crafting a multi-media message that will be delivered live to people who matter, to people who need to know what you have to say. This is as true for the financial presentation at a board meeting as it is for an original, insightful, inspiring talk given to an audience who paid for the privilege of seeing you speak.
How much time should you spend on your presentation? As much time as your presentation needs.