How Long Should You Plan For Your Speech?

The length of your speech must be one of the first things you consider when you intend to give a speech. Yes, your speech title, audience and content will always vie for pole position. Yet duration is pivotal. Because nobody wants to bore for Britain. Or, indeed, anywhere else. So a good thing to do is to ask a question or two.

How long for your speech?

For How Long Should You Speak?

For example, you could speak with the conference organisers, if you are asked to give a conference speech. Your first two questions might be:

How long do you want me to speak for? And does that time include questions and answers (Q and A)?

These are excellent question to ask of any organiser at any conference venue. Because their answer will point to matters of schedule, the audience and the theme of the conference. Perhaps a keynote speech at 0900 might be shorter than a core subject speech at 1000? Your organiser will clarify everything so the length of your speech is just right.

Alternatively, what if it's your own speaking opportunity? Since if you intend to speak to your own team members, address the factory or speak at the Christmas party you'll need to be wary of time and duration. And since you have a high regard for your audience you'll want to leave them wanting more from you. Not too long. And not too short.

To help further, these five tips are sound pointers for the length of your speech.

The Length of Your Speech: How to Get it Right

Tip 1

Make your speech length a priority as soon as you commit to a speech. And then plan for that duration with the appropriate content, sound editing and thorough rehearsal.

Tip 2

Aim for brevity. Because when you speak for a shorter length of time you'll be better prepared, better edited and rehearsed. Editing would certainly have improved this MacTaggart speech.

Tip 3

Audiences respond to short speeches, not least because they can engage better with them. With a shorter duration they can focus on your key content and give you their full attention.

Tip 4

How about a maximum of 20 minutes speech plus questions? Since it's certainly enough time to introduce a good topic, explore some themes, ask questions, pose challenges and offer solutions. Importantly your audience won't respond well to a long-winded speaker.

Tip 5

A shorter speech provides the space and time for questions and answers. And if you've asked some good questions or posed some serious assertions then your Q and A session should be lively.

Beyond our series of public speaking tips, podcasts and videos, you can discover more public speaking skills tips beyond the optimal length of your speech on a PresentPerfectTM training course. And because we offer courses at more than 40 off-site training centres and corporate training at your own business premises, you're never that far away. So please don't hesitate to get in touch when the time is right.

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Please don't hesitate to get in touch for public speaking course advice.

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It's quite simple. Say what you have to say and when you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending, sit down.

Winston Churchill

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