Ending On Time

Lewis Carroll (1866) in Through the Looking Glass warned '. . . Beware the Jabberwocky . . .' The lack of good timing of your presentation could be your Jabberwocky. Beware.

You will be given a certain number of minutes in which to speak. Typically this is 20 minutes, which includes time for someone to introduce you and time at the end for you to answer questions. Be prepared to accept that whatever length of time you are given it will not be enough to explain your research in full detail. However, it is vital that you stay within your time limit. Vital.

Nothing angers the audience or the organizers more than a speaker who goes overtime. Either the next speaker will have less time or the schedule of the whole conference will be delayed - and you, you, will be the Jabberwocky who caused it.

Here is the way to stay within an allotted number of minutes: First you must force yourself to be realistic about how much you can explain, slowly and carefully, in the length of time you are given. Perhaps you have valuable, lengthy results, which need explanation of procedure, background, and future possibilities. Too bad, too bad, but that is how it is: You are given a limited number of minutes. You cannot tell them everything. You will 1) choose what is most important, 2) display it in clear, uncluttered slides, and 3) explain each slide in slow, simple, easy-to-understand English. Racing through a bewildering amount of rapid data is the worst mistake a presenter can make.

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