Short on Public Speaking Time? Roll With Your Plan B

Topic(s): Uncategorized
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: Nail your presentation even when your time is cut short
Authors: D. Grayson Riegel
Reviewed by: Daisy Rowser-Grier

Anything can happen before or while you are presenting at work. You could show up to work convinced that you have 15 minutes to present but be told by your manager that your time is cut short to 5 minutes. Instead of feeling frustrated and stressed, it would be best to brush up on your public speaking skills. In a recent article in Harvard Business Review (Grayson Riegel, 2023), the author explains that outstanding public speakers are well-planned, adaptable, and can make a strong impact even when their time is cut short. 


When preparing for a meeting, the author recommends that speakers practice with a timer and aim to meet the required timing. They can also ensure that the moderator is proficient with scheduling speakers, including leaving time for questions or unexpected delays. If the allotted time ends up being shortened, the author presents three backup plans for presenters to take:

(1) Create two versions of the presentation: 

Practice the full version of the presentation and then prepare a second presentation that is condensed by about half. If you realize that you need to regress to the shorter presentation while you’re presenting, tell the audience that you can supply them with supplementary documents at the end of the presentation.

(2) Touch on the main points: 

Instead of creating a presentation with all the details, present with headlines that are supported with storytelling. Be more concise about what you are presenting. 

(3) Don’t express grievances:

There is a time and place to express feelings, but a presentation is not the best setting. Avoid blaming or abandoning fellow coworkers if the schedule diverts from what was originally planned. Instead, remain professional and accept the reality. Take a few moments to breathe in and ease into the present moment.


Several unplanned things could take place during a presentation, but an exceptional public speaker is prepared and versatile. In this light, the author makes a convincing case that speakers can have an impact on listeners even when time is short. Brushing up on public speaking abilities and following the three backup plans could help presenters make their intended impression.


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