5 Ways to Make More Time for Your Talks

In the past week:

  • I was rushing off to emcee an event, scrambling to gather my notes IN THE CAR, ON THE WAY TO THE EVENT.
  • One of my clients, so busy with other (also) important meetings, ended up giving 5 hours prep to a presentation that normally gets much more.
  • After I shared my feeling of overwhelm, someone suggested I check out Oprah and Deepok’s meditation on Time. Great idea… but you know what?  I HAVEN’T HAD TIME TO LISTEN TO IT.

Ha. (And, also: not ha.)

I don’t hold “busy” as a badge of honor, I’m just busy. This is good news for an entrepreneur, but it can be overwhelming. It comes at the cost of important things in our lives -our sanity and health, most importantly – and I’m working hard to change the overwhelm and find more margin in my calendar. Let me be clear: I’m no expert on productivity and have no business schooling anyone on keeping their sh$t together. My sh$t is definitely not together.

 BUT – I CAN share a few simple ways to make TIME for your Talk – even if we don't feel like we have enough:



If you see your talk development as happening all the time – and collect and capture your ideas as they come to you (rather than once you sit down to “write”) – well, then when the moment arrives you won't have to go scrambling and waste a lot of time collecting your stories, inspiration, articles and references. They'll already be there, waiting for you.

If you ‘start before you start' you'll be able to save some precious time you can then spend on other, more important things: like delivery!

#2: Put Development Time in Your Calendar

If it’s not in my calendar, it has no chance of happening. That is sad, but true. So when I’m writing a talk, I block off time. I try and see this time as an appointment like any other, and not negotiate that time away. It’s hard to do, especially when it’s important to me to be available to others. (Women: this is important. We give our time away to other people and other things often, which is a beautiful thing. But it’s also ok to prioritize your goals and work!)

#3: Schedule practice time with someone else.

Either with a coach (ahem: hi!), or a friend or colleague. The accountability it creates will raise the stakes enough that it bumps itself up on your priority list. It’s one of the biggest things I hear from my clients: “You kept me accountable to preparing.” 

#4: Get on Your Feet Before You're Ready!

We avoid this like the plague, but it’s one of the most essential parts of practicing, and often the part that gets skipped because it’s the most vulnerable and most risky (and most awkward, amiright?).

Speakers, listen up: I know you hate to get up and practice. Most people I know – if they're short on time – avoid the on-their-feet practicing. They might sit and look through their slide deck, but that is NOT THE SAME THING as standing up and speaking what you are going to say. We do not know what it feels or sounds like, unless we do it on our feet. We speak with not just our words, but our bodies as well – so you have GOT to get up on your feet.

How does it save time, you ask?

Because if you have the discipline to STOP WRITING when your content is at 80% and then get on your feet BEFORE YOU'RE READY, then you have a chance at saving time. We figure out the final edits and adjustments and changes once we're up on our feet.

You can choose to figure those things out once you're up on front of people (too late);

you can choose to figure them out after you've spent an additional 10 hours obsessing over the last bit of content development only to find that you want to change things anyway (waste of time!);

or you can choose to figure it out at the 80% mark.

Save yourself 20% of your time, and a whole bunch of learning by GETTING ON YOUR FEET.

Sorry to caps-yell at you, but this is important.

#5: Remember: You and Your Audience are Worth it!

After I worked with a client on developing a big talk she was giving, she said to me: “This took way more time that I expected, and way more time than I thought I should put into a talk… but I realized that it was worth it. That *I* was worth it.”

The process of developing a talk is personal, courageous, challenging. Most people show up and, to some extent, wing it – depending on what they know rather than what they are about to do, and depending on how much time they have devoted to preparing. Sadly, most audience's expectations are low when it comes to speaking, so another mediocre talk doesn’t really impact them one way or another.

But we can do better.

Not every talk is going to move the world, but one talk CAN.  It's worth our investment.


But, wait: I thought this article was about how to SAVE TIME, not how to invest MORE of it??

Haha, tricked you!

Saving time and making time are two different things.

I want to save time, by making time for the really important things:

– scheduling time and margins in my calendar for it to develop;

– scheduling time with people to see it, give feedback and hold me accountable;

– to stop obsessing over the content when it gets to 80% and then get up on my feet to learn what needs to be learned earlier

– and I will keep my eyes, ears, heart open for what is moving me, knowing that inspiration can hit anytime, not just when I have a deadline looming.

It's time well spent.



Check out the 10 tools I use to prep for a kick-butt talk:

Here ya go!

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