How often have you been sitting in the audience during a 4 hour presentation when the presenter said “This is normally an 8 hour class so I will have to rush through the material.”, or “I would normally cover this in more detail, but we do not have enough time today.”, or they blast through slides saying “We don’t have time for this material. I would normally have more time for this presentation.” How did you feel? If you are like me you felt frustrated and maybe even ripped off. I have been in presentations where the presenter obviously did not edit their presentation for the time slot and blasted through half their slides saying “I don’t have time for this. Don’t have time to cover this. Don’t have time for this.” It pissed me off. As a presenter it is disrespectful to the audience and shows you didn’t care enough to prepare for them.
As a trainer you are a professional. As a professional it is incumbent on you to prepare and to fit the material to the allotted time. Audiences are frustrated when you tell them you do not have enough time to cover the material. If you do not have enough time to cover the material, take it out of your presentation. You can certainly let them know (in an appropriate way) that you offer longer training sessions or courses that go into more detail or cover additional subject, but do not leave them feeling ripped off and do not use a short presentation simply as an infomercial for your longer presentations or your products.
If you cannot provide a meaningful training session in the time allotted to you then turn down the presentation. You must know when to say no to speaking engagements. If you have 2 hours then present 2 hours worth of material and do it in a dynamic and professional way. DO NOT attempt to cram 8 hours of material into 2 hours, or 4 hours. We have all been on both sides of those presentations and it is frustrating for everyone.
If you find you have too much material then on a break dump a bunch of slides or skip ahead in your presentation without the audience knowing what you have done. Make sure however, you cover the material you said you would in your presentation overview.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a 4 hour presentation by Jeff Norwitz on Terrorism: From Global War to Main Street. This was my first time hearing Jeff present and he is a true professional. With his knowledge and experience on this topic he could easily teach a month long course on the topic. In fact, Jeff has a three day class on one of the components of his presentation. He covered that component in 60 minutes and did an excellent job of it. He had a great pace, allowed people to ask questions and share experiences and everyone walked away with a far better understanding of the complex topic than they had at the start. There was no rushing through slides, no excuses, just quality information presented in a professional manner. During the discussion Jeff casually mentioned he has a three day class on the topic where he goes into far more detail. The 4 hour presentation included hourly breaks and some class discussions that obviously used up more time than was anticipated. Jeff took this all in stride and on the breaks dropped slides from his presentation that he would not have time to cover. I have a high standard for presenters and Jeff Norwitz is someone I would highly recommend you find an opportunity to listen to. Jeff will be presenting at the 2012 Southeast Regional Warrior Symposium in Orlando February 27 to March 2)