March 9, 2010

What can you say in 45 seconds?

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Have you noticed how many award show winners run out of time? Okay, of course you have. It's even worse when there are multiple winners who all want to speak.

It seems as though they all want to be spontaneous and in the moment - and not rehearsed in any way. Very few seem to have a prepared speech.

Every time I see another winner get cut off by the music I wonder to myself, "Why?"

Nominees at this year's Academy Awards were given 45 seconds for their speeches. They were also invited to share any additional thoughts not falling within the time frame with a backstage "thank you cam" this year, to be posted to the web and used however the winners wished to use them.

At the annual nominees luncheon, producers gave tips on how to approach the 45-second speech, including, "Share your passion on what the Oscar means to you." Sounds good to me!

Not everyone who wins an Academy Award is an actor and therefore should not be expected to have the same familiarity with rehearsing a script. However, 45 seconds should be plenty long enough for anyone who takes the time to prepare and practice.

For goodness sake -- they know they're nominated, so it's not like a huge surprise when they win! Each nominee should have taken the time to prepare a speech, practiced it, and made sure it fit into the 45-second time slot.

If there are multiple winners to bring onstage, you need to divide up the time and practice, whether each person gets ten or twenty seconds.

And, by the way, this is true of any presentation where there are multiple speakers. One way to guarantee you go over time and someone doesn't get to finish is to avoid practicing together. One person speaking is unpredictable enough; two people or more, it's a crapshoot.

Whether it's just you or several speakers, and whether you have 45 seconds or 45 minutes, you always need to practice and you always need to fit into your time slot. It's the courteous thing to do for the other speakers and for your audience.

By the way, when's the last time an Oscar winner thanked us for watching their movie?

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

Unknown said...

So, so true - time management always seems to be the last consideration when preparing for a presentation. But by failing to stick to your time slot, you're disrespecting your audience. And perhaps failing to deliver all your content.

At our training courses, we always do a quick test on time management - and 99% of participants fail!


Lisa Braithwaite said...

So often, it's the little things that make the most impact on a presentation. Thanks for your comment, Jessica.

Public Speaking Extraordinaire said...

I agree if you can't deliver your speech in a set time slot then you are doing something wrong and most likely boring your audience.
I hate watching speakers who joke about not having enough time as if it is the fault of someone else

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Great point. If you run out of time, it's no one's fault but yours!

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