Recon Question 5: How much time do I have?
Sun Tzu Principle: “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”
Have you ever turned up to an event, well prepared. You have an awesome message and you know your audience? You know know what you want to achieve? In fact, you could even have an audience profile written out… but you have way too much content for the allotted time?
I have. It puts you under unnecessary stress! Well, It is avoidable. You have to make your calculations before the battle to avoid this stress.
While questions one through four in the 5 Question Recon Template is focused on making sure you have content that is shaped and aligned to your audience, the final question is focused on helping you make sure you have the right amount of content… not too much… not too little.
I am a professional speaker and podcaster and I often find myself speaking at approximately 145-160 words per minute. The average speaker, engaged in a casual, friendly conversation will speak at a rate of approximately 110–150 words per minute.
The general rule for a speaker to guide themselves with is 150 words per – as this is the recommended speed for audio-books to be read at for best listening.
As a coach, I often tell my clients to expect a story to take between 3-5 minutes for them to set it up, create enough content for a good plot and then communicate it.
Another issue is if you have the wrong amount of content for your allotted time you will create chaos for other speakers following you. I remember being the closing speaker at a conference in Wellington NZ, my allotted time was 4:15 – 4:50.
I was flown down from Auckland to Wellington. Housed in a five-star accommodation. Fed a brilliantly prepared lunch and dinner, all very expensive, and on top I was paid a very handsome fee. Overall, it costs someone a lot of money to have me there.
Sadly, the two speakers before me did not have the content properly shaped for their allotted time and by the time I was standing in front of this audience of about 300 delegates, all ready to head out the door and head for their cars or the airport,
I had just 10 minutes! I had to do critical surgery on my speech and make it powerfully short!
Just so you know… there are 3,000 words in a 20-minute speech. Know how much time you have in your next speech and make sure your have the right amount of content… for that time.