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English Communication Skills: Presentation Time of Day Pitfalls

English Communication Skills: Presentation Time of Day Pitfalls

What time of day will you be speaking or doing a presentation?  Will it make a difference? Absolutely.

shutterstock_189307373Here are some pitfalls.   Know these, and you can prevent problems.  For today’s blog, we will discuss  pitfalls for morning presentations.

Breakfast/early morning

  • Listeners may be groggy.  Choose a stimulating issue  or anecdote to open with. Get audience involvement by having them raise their hand in agreement or disagreement.
  • People may be in a rush.  So this is not the time for leisurely humor or drawn-out details.  At breakfast, more than any other time of day, it’s wise to heed the great US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s advice: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”
  • Listeners may be preoccupied with work tasks of the day.  This, of course, will affect their receptivity.  Draw them into the topic with quick anecdotes or thought provoking quotations.
  • People attending may be irritable. Why? Because they had to change their morning commute to attend the meeting.


  • Listeners may need a coffee break.  If at all possible, provide coffee and tea.  Otherwise listeners may head to the nearest cafeteria and miss a chunk of your presentation.
  • Attendees may need to use the restrooms.  A good rule of thumb: If your listeners have been sitting for more than an hour, give them a quick three-minute break before you talk.  Otherwise, they’ll just leave in the middle anyway—interrupting other people  in the audience and distracting you.
  • People may need to check in to their office for messages.  Again, a three minute break is a good remedy—it gives them a chance to make a quick call without bothering the whole room.  But don’t give them too long, or they may get bogged down with expanded work details

Immediately before lunch

  • Listeners are hungry and probably can’t concentrate well.  Don’t be surprised if no one asks any questions before lunch.  It doesn’t mean they are bored.  It only means they’d rather go eat.  Here’s a good alternative: Invite people to ask questions throughout your presentation.  Be sure to keep questions and answers in check so you don’t run overtime.  Audiences are very forgiving – except for making them late for lunch.
  • Listeners have been sitting all morning and may need to stretch.  What’s an easy solution? Invite them to stand up and take a thirty-second “stretch break” right at their seats.
  • Listeners may get “information overload.”  Supplement your speaking with handouts so people can review material later.

Next time: What about lunch presentations?

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