May 23, 2012

Are you stealing your audience's time?



We are all familiar with the concept of wasting time. We consider our time wasted when time has passed and we haven't made progress or achieved what we hoped because something distracted us or caused a delay that was out of our control. Some people, like Jason Womack, author of Your Best Just Got Better, probably never experience wasted time, because they are so incredibly productive!

I find it especially disappointing when my time has been wasted by a speaker, because during that hour and in that room, I could have been learning something, expanding my horizons, or even just being entertained. Outside of that room, of course, had I not attended the speaking engagement, I could have been creating products, marketing my services, networking, and building my business.

Yes, we're all far too familiar with the concept of wasting time. But how about the concept of stealing time? This expression was introduced to me by my friend Drew, a guy who gets things done. His time, like all of ours, is valuable, and when he finds himself listening to a speaker who hasn't prepared, or who's winging his presentation, or who's reading from his slides, or -- especially -- doesn't seem to care much one way or the other, Drew considers his time to have been stolen.

Time passes, and no, we can never get it back, so it's gone anyway. We can give our time away willingly to good causes, good friends, family and pursuits we enjoy. We can spend our time doing things that engage, enrich, and enlighten us, propelling us forward, or we can spend time doing things that hinder and stifle us. Or we can spend our time just not doing, period. But those choices still belong to us (as much as we'd like to blame others when we don't get the results we want).

When someone steals my time, though, it feels like it's against my will. But is it? How many times have you walked out on a speaker? Never? Me neither. It sounds harsh, but if someone's stealing my time, maybe I should take a stand and salvage what time I still have remaining!

I would much rather give or spend my time than have it stolen from me, wouldn't you?

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