On the Public Speaking Skills Facebook page, Hugo raised an excellent point about speakers who exceed their allotted time – or “waffle on interminably”, as he put it.
However mesmerising your speech or presentation may be, it’s never a good idea to go over time. You may be driven by the best of intentions to give your audience more than they bargained for but, actually, it’s unprofessional and it can result in your talk tailing off as the audience gets restless. Depending on the context, they may have homes to go to, trains to catch, other appointments to attend. Or they may be tired from so much concentrating and need some fresh air.
When preparing and practising your talk, aim to come in just under the time allocated to you. This will give you a bit of leeway in case things take longer than expected on the day and, from the audience’s point of view, it will make a welcome change.
Anything you can say well in 10 minutes, you can say well in 9 minutes 30 seconds. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll say it better in the shorter time because you’ve focused and sharpened what you want to say that bit more.