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On how to deliver a twenty minute address in twenty minutes

31 May 2019 16:16
On how to deliver a twenty minute address in twenty minutes (or a ten minute address in ten minutes, or a five minute one in five – you get the idea!)

Your invitation to speak is explicit about the time. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. Or just ten. How do you prepare in such a way as to fit your message into your assigned time-frame?
Think about it in terms of space.

You’re flying off on holiday and that particular suitcase is all the space that you have for all the things you want and need to take.

Or you’re taking the car and your boot space is all that you have for all the things the family needs and wants for their week in the cottage.

So with a message. It’s all a matter of space. A speaker who uses notes should be able to say, “This is all the space I have for all the things I want and need to say in the ten or twenty minutes I have been allotted.”

Here’s the formula:

1. Take one sheet of your notes and go somewhere private where you can speak out loud.
2. Deliver that part of your message at the speaking pace you would use in an actual delivery.
3. Time yourself.
4. Do the arithmetic. If it takes you, say, five minutes to get through your sheet of notes and you have a five minute address to give then that’s your space – one sheet. If you have a twenty minute address to give then your space is four sheets.
5. Stick to it. Say to yourself, “that’s my space, I don’t have any more”, and discipline yourself in preparation to fill up that space and no more.

I speak from long experience. If I have a twenty minute Prayer Meeting address to give, or a ten minute evangelistic address, or a thirty minute sermon I know at the outset how much space I have. So too with a children’s address. I try to restrict myself to that space and can usually manage to within a minute or two.

It’s such a helpful constraint as you decide what to include and what to omit: “this is all the space that I have”. It saves you coming to a meeting with too much material and just hoping that you’ll be able to fit it all in. It means too that you don’t end up speaking too fast. Or going way over the time.

From the standpoint of a leader of meetings the ideal is to be confident that an invited speaker is going to stick to his allotted time. It allows ample time for all the other things that need to be fitted in and, for the one leading, prevents unwelcome agitation.