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Public Speaking Course: 

Time of Day Matters

Here are some important points related to the time of day you make your presentation, from my public speaking course.

If you are the first speaker of the day for an early morning (7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.) program, you should not expect a whole lot of  laughter. Most people are not even awake yet and are definitely not ready to laugh at much in the early morning.  Use more information and less humor.

I was once asked by a sales speaker at an event, to open up an early morning public seminar. He told me that he just wanted me to get them laughing before he started speaking. I told him that it was not a good idea and probably wasn't going to get the results he wanted, but he insisted. I opened up the seminar with some sure-fire tested humor to gauge their responsiveness and pretty much bombed. I cut my material and brought the speaker on stage. He couldn't get them laughing either. I sat in the audience and watched what would happen throughout he day. By 10:15 a.m. they were laughing at just about anything.

During my public speaking course you will find  it's important for you to know when NOT to expect a lot of laughter. It would be a waste of time to use your best speaking material at a time when laughter shouldn't be expected. If you didn't know that early morning programs aren't the best time for laughter, you could have your confidence shaken so badly that the rest of your presentation might suffer. Also, keep in mind that I am giving you general principles. You might run into a lively group sometime. Just don't expect it every time.

Most public speakers consider brunch or lunch time to be the best time of day to expect a responsive audience. It is late enough that the folks who sleep late are now awake, but not so late in the day that early risers are starting to get tired.

In the afternoon people are already starting to get tired from the long day of hearing presenters. Audience members will retain less because they are not listening as closely as they did that morning. You can use more humorous speaking and less hard information, but don't expect laughter to be as intense. Knowing your audience and how best to connect with them is part of what you will learn during your public speaking course.

The last speaker of a long afternoon or evening program should not expect a great response, again because folks are worn out from a long day of speeches. Keep your presentation short and crisp and acknowledge the lateness so that the audience knows you care about their needs. 

One time I was the last speaker on a long program in Baltimore, Maryland, for a food service management company. I was being introduced at 8:35 p.m. on a Monday night in the fall. What do you think the mostly male audience was thinking at 8:35 p.m. on a Monday night in the Fall? Of course! MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!

So I got up and said:

"There are three things I would never want to be:
1. a javelin catcher;
2. the scoop man at a Donkey Basketball game; and
3. the last public speaker on a long program. (I looked at my watch.)
It's now 8:40 p.m. I'm going to limit my remarks to 15 minutes.
I guarantee you will be in the hospitality suite in time for the kickoff."

I kept my promise to them.

Do you think I had more of their attention than if I had not made the comment? You bet I did!

Even though it had been a long day, they all had a good laugh during my talk. A little care for your audience will go a long way. They liked that I cared and so showed care by listening. We connected, and that is the key to all you will learn in my public speaking course.

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