Did you know that your awareness of time has a direct impact on your social intelligence? It’s easy to spot someone with poor awareness of time. They talk longer than what seems necessary in a meeting, they’re difficult to get off the phone, and they don’t get anywhere quickly (be it to an appointment, the point of a conversation, etc.). They are your classic time wasters. Every now and again we all fall victim to becoming time wasters. A keen awareness of time requires focus, concern for others, and an internal clock that’s been activated.
In the book, The Connectors, I wrote about one of the most exceptional speakers I have heard, Chris Mee. He has an incredible sense of time, and he puts it to use in his presentations as well in meetings and conversations. In one instance, Mee was asked to speak for 40 minutes to a group of financial advisors. The speakers before him each ran long on their allotted time. He looked at the organizer and said that he could get the meeting back on time. He did his 40 minute presentation in 5 minutes without ever looking at his watch. It was, by the way, the highest rated presentation of the day. How is that possible?
Whether in a meeting, on the phone, or in delivery of a presentation, there are some key points to both stay on time, while delivering compelling information:
1. Get to the point. Determine what in your presentation or conversation is the most important, compelling and potentially valuable for your audience (be it an individual or entire group).
2. Practice. Know how long it should take you to describe certain elements of your business, products, or services. Be prepared.
3. Time yourself. If you find yourself “going long” in conversations or presentations – and even if you think you are always right on time – check your watch. When you start talking during a business meeting, look at your watch. Then, check back when you’re done. How much of the meeting did your conversation occupy? Was your percentage of the meeting justified with the content you covered? Focusing on time will help train your internal clock.
In business, time is critical. It is one of the most precious commodities. So, don’t let time wasters get away with stealing your precious time – including yourself!