As frustrating as it may be, it’s bound to happen at some point or another. Whether in a meeting with a KOL, internal stakeholder, executive leadership or possibly an interview, if you’re presenting to humans, it’s likely issues will arise and timing will be impacted.

Don’t worry, here are a few tips to help you gracefully handle the condensed presentation time:

BE PREPARED FOR THE INEVITABLE- I’m a broken record on the “focus on what you can control” mantra, but preparation is key for success.

  • It’s critical that you truly understand your material so that you’re able to pivot and cut it down as needed.
  • It would be worth having a full-length version and an abbreviated version on hand you can refer to as needed.
  • If you only have full length, be sure to know which slides are easily able to be “hidden”.
  • Try to avoid speed-reading or rushing through information to fit it all in. Instead focus on just the key points and move on.

PRACTICE- Yes, this falls under the “BE PREPARED” headline, but it is crucial to knowing your material inside and out.

  • If you’re only reading the material in your head and not actually practicing your delivery, cadence, and timing in real time there’s no way to confidently maneuver hurdles that might arise. You won’t be nearly as savvy in your ability to pivot and hit the highlights, skim, or skip information in a pinch.
  • If you can recite your presentation in your sleep, it’s much more likely you’ll nail the revised version when you must adapt on the fly.
  • You don’t want your first time delivering your “abbreviated” deck to be in front of an interview panel or your KOL.
  • Practice your presentation with friends or family and ask for feedback. You can also practice to your pet, or in the mirror, just to get more comfortable with your delivery.
  • Recording yourself can feel a little extreme, but it can provide invaluable and critical feedback for you on areas you can improve. Especially if it’s a new TA or topic that you’re presenting on as well.

MAINTAIN COMPOSURE/PROFESSIONALISM- Don’t freak out or let them see you sweat. You’re prepared, you know your material, what’s important to your audience, and how to hit the highlights- you’ve got this!

  • Avoid commenting on any inconvenience or making excuses for yourself ahead of time. (EX: “Since we’re short on time I’ll briefly touch on X,Y,Z…” or “I’ll quickly talk about X”, “Sorry I wasn’t able to get to X, I ran out of time due to tech issues”. )
  • Roll with the punches and take it in stride- pretend like this was the plan all along.
  • If you’re running short due to someone showing up late or moving your agenda around last minute, don’t take it personally or assume it’s a bad sign. Sometimes schedules change without a lot of notice and that’s just part of the job.

Confidence is key in presenting. Handing snags like a pro with poise, grace, and understanding is the impression we want our audience to remember.

Happy presenting friends,