One of the most difficult aspects of public speaking is time management. This is especially true for any presentation that depends on the audience’s skill level or allows them to ask questions at any time. Sure, rehearsal gives you an idea of how long your presentation will last, but how smoothly will it go when the audience gets involved?
Well, if you are teaching interactive classes or giving seminars, I have good news. The same techniques that you learned to managed flow will also help you manage time. If your presentation is scalable, your audience will be performing the most difficult and free-form activities near the end. If you are giving a presentation and have time to spare, pile it on during this part of your presentation.
Free exercises, where the audience is actually using the concepts that you have taught, are almost infinitely expandable. For example, if role-playing is involved you can introduce new situations and have attendees practice with new people to expand the exercise. At this point in your presentation, most audiences need a lot of practice using the concepts that you have introduced. Sometimes simply repeating the exercise a few times, after providing feedback between rounds, is enough to bring your timing back on track.
So, the next time you are worried about timing, consider how you can apply flow to your advantage. Many presenters are tempted to load up their presentations with excess material, fearing that they can’t fill up the time allotted to them. It’s better to help your audience become experts on fewer topics than make them mediocre at many. Trust me on this one—I learned this particular lesson the hard way.