If you have been invited to speak to a group of people and plan to talk for 30 – 40 minutes or even longer, it is important to understand that different hours of the day will result in different responses from your audience. 2 notoriously bad hours for a lengthy presentation are late morning, the hour preceding lunch, and late afternoon, the final hour before the end of the workday. In both situations, it is not easy to keep your audience’s attention.
Your body definitely goes through time rhythms throughout the day in which there are hours when you are more alert and hours when you are tired or fatigued. Whereas speaking at 7 am is tough because many people are still trying to wake up, the evening hours are usually good, especially for those in business who are accustomed to attending meetings and other organizational events after dinner.
Where your presentation is held is also another consideration. If you are going to be speaking in Las Vegas, for example, the morning hours will probably mean low attendance, so it would be wise to schedule your presentation for sometime in the afternoon in the city that never sleeps. In Atlantic City, on the other hand, morning hours would work well because many of those attending workshops, seminars, and conventions in this coastal city are coming from surrounding states or from within New Jersey. Bear in mind that Las Vegas’ tourists or conventioneers are coming from all over the country or even further and will be staying overnight. Atlantic City’s traffic is different than Las Vegas in that the conventions in this seaside city, because they are more localized, often mean that many in attendance may or may not be staying overnight.
What also must be kept in mind is whether you are the only speaker or whether you are one of many on the roster. Giving a persuasive or informative presentation to a group of people who have just listened to a comedian may not be the smartest move. Speaking before the comedian, for example, would be a better spot for you.
While you may not have the opportunity to choose the time for your presentation, much will also depend on your topic and the type of audience to whom you will be speaking. If you are going to give a presentation on maintaining a healthy heart to a group of retirees, it would be wise to avoid the evening hours. Keeping some of these seniors awake after their dinner with a serious presentation on heart healthcare could prove much more challenging than if you were to speak to them in the morning.
If, for example, you have been invited to speak to a women’s business group that meets the first Monday evening of the month, then your time has been scheduled. If, on the other hand, the hour has some flexibility, ask your host about the audience and discuss with this individual what they feel would be the best time for you to speak.
Planning your presentation at an optimal hour or in a good time slot may not always be possible. Should you be invited to speak at an hour in which your audience may not be as alert as you would like, it is doubly important to speak with enthusiasm, with excitement, and with passion to keep their attention on you. If you know they are going to be tired, wake them up!