When you're on stage, you have a responsibility to your audience. Naturally, you have to provide them with great value, but you also have a responsibility to respect their time. You have the same responsibility to your fellow presenters. For a speaker whose slot is scheduled just before a break, having their time cut sort by previous speakers who over-ran is very frustrating indeed.
You need to be aware of timing throughout the event. If it looks as though the timings are slipping, you must speak to the organiser to find out if you can deliver your full speech, or need to shorten it to get the event back on schedule. It's their call, not yours. You also need to finish your speech on time, or ideally a minute earlier. Remember that a speech delivered live on stage will always take longer than a version delivered solo to a mirror.
So if you do need to shorten your speech at short notice, what can you do? Here are some tips:
- Prepare by highlighting the most important elements of your speech in your notes (if you use them).
- Stay calm.
- Never apologise for missing out content, since your audience won't know.
- It's easier to leave out a story than shorten it.
- Learn how to skip to a slide, rather than paging through them.
- If you lose your place in your slides, use the "B" key to turn the screen black, and just talk to the audience.
- Don't hurry, or speed up at the end.
- Take out content from the middle of your speech - keep the ending intact.