Magical thinking about time will do a very special abracadabra on you when you're preparing to give a presentation or a workshop or a talk.
Here are a few tips to stand firm in the face of the hocus-pocus:
1 :: Prepare your content, and then cut it by at least a third.
Really. You will not get to all of it. And you surely will not get to all of it well. We are continuously socialized to overplan, pack it in, and maximize every moment. That maximizing will infect your content planning if you let it.
"But what if I'm done and I still have time left over?" you ask. You won't. But even if you do: When was the last time you complained at going to something valuable AND getting out early?
2 :: Plan to start late and end early.
You will rarely begin on time. Even if you are the model of punctuality. Because beginning on time does not just depend on you. Critical folks will run late, the people before you will go over time, or you'll have issues with the microphone/projector/climate control in the space. Oh, and also, greeting and thanking everyone for coming takes minutes we rarely allow for.
And as for planning to end early, that'll give you some leeway for the closing thank-yous and final questions you forgot to allot minutes to. And, like I mentioned above, getting out five minutes early will significantly elevate your talk/meeting/workshop in the eyes of everyone involved. It will especially delight the organizer, whose last three people ran 10 minutes over and put the whole day behind; the guy in the back row, who calls to check on his aging father a few times a day; and the mama, who needs to go pump in the bathroom before the next session.
3 :: Limit your main takeaways to three. (Two is even better. And for a short presentation, one strong takeaway can make a huge impact.)
I know you have more than three important things to say. But no one will remember more than three. Don't magic up your thinking about people's brainspace for your (admittedly brilliant) message. We're all trying to carry around a lot of info.
And really wouldn't you rather give folks three awesome takeaways that they actually use and remember--instead of five that leave them a vague impression of having heard some good stuff?
(The Brechtian look at what's happening right now in this post: Dang. I have another one. It's a really important one. I want to tell you what it is. But I just said to limit your main takeaways to three. I'm at my screen considering whether I should take one of the current ones out, or just tell myself that writing is different than speaking so four is okay.
And now I'm stopping. Take that, magical thinking.)
This week, I'm exploring what magical thinking does in our lives. This post is part of an ongoing series on women's voices.