How to Keep Speakers on Time During a Conference

Presenter on a stage

The atmosphere is buzzing with enthusiasm as each presenter takes the stage and shares their groundbreaking ideas.

However, one speaker is so engrossed in their speech that they lose track of time. Their allotted slot has long expired, yet they show no signs of slowing down.

Even the audience begins to shift uneasily in their seats, knowing another talk has been on schedule.

With a sense of urgency and to ensure the smooth operation of the conference, you make the tough decision to intervene, guiding the speaker to conclude their presentation.

Sounds like the kind of awkwardness you’d want to avoid, doesn’t it?

Why does timing matter in a conference?

Timing is crucial in the conference for many reasons. Firstly, it ensures all the presenters get an equal opportunity to share their insights. When one presenter exceeds their allotted time, it disrupts the flow of the event and affects the time reserved for other presenters.

Moreover, a conference can have hundreds of presentations lined up for a day. Not sticking to the schedule can push all the subsequent sessions behind, leading to delays throughout the event. This causes inconvenience to the audience and impacts their whole experience. 

Additionally, this scheduling mishap can also affect logistical arrangements, such as breaks, networking sessions, and meal times, which can be a huge turn-off for presenters and attendees.

How to keep a speaker’s presentation on time

The key to running a smooth conference lies in planning and preparation. You need to stay connected with your speakers and share the required process with them to stay within the conference timelines. 

1. Be discreet about selecting speakers

Selecting an experienced speaker is always a safe bet. When you’re reaching out to experts who’ve given presentations in the past and spoken to a large audience, there’s a high chance they know how to adhere to your timelines. 

Here’s how to go about it:

  • Consider their professional background, and knowledge relevant to the conference theme. 
  • Evaluate their presentation skills—consider factors such as speaking experience, charisma, clarity of expression, and engagement in their style. 
  • Check out their previous talks online and see if they’re the right fit for you.
  • Aim for a balance between thought leaders and emerging voices to offer different perspectives to your audience.

2. Communicate your expectations

Even with having an experienced speaker onboard for your conference, it never hurts to be ultra-specific about what you’re looking for. This is where you provide them with detailed guidelines on what you need from their presentation. 

It could be:

  • The length you expect them to keep in mind and not exceed
  • Their time slot for the event—knowing when their names will be announced helps them mentally prepare 
  • The format of the presentation, including the audio-visual and slides

“In my experience, clear and concise briefing is the key. Make it clear what you expect from the speaker, discuss content, and what you hope to achieve from the presentation. But don’t expect to micromanage a presentation. You employ a speaker for their expertise and you have to allow them to do their job.”

Bob Strange
Founding director at The Closer Speakers’ Consultancy Ltd

As Bob mentioned, setting the expectations from the beginning helps ensure the conference goes as smoothly as possible. 

However, there’s a thin line between setting expectations and micromanaging your speakers. Your job is to assist them with guidelines for the presentation format and length—the contents inside it should all come from their expertise. All you can ensure is it’s finished in the required time slot. 

3. Have your speakers submit their presentations in advance

With hundreds of speakers scheduled to speak at your conference, you cannot risk discrepancies and issues during the presentation. 

What if a multimedia file doesn’t open during the presentation? Imagine the nightmare, if the speaker accidentally submits an older version of the slides!

All this miscommunication and confusion can result in embarrassment during the presentation, which can be avoided. All you need is proper planning and coordination.

Send an invite to all your speakers to upload their presentation files. Once you have all their data, make sure everything is in place—check the quality, audio, video, and number of slides. Make sure their presentation is formatted well and can be presented within the allotted time slot.

With Preseria, you can send communication to all your speakers to upload their files. You can prevent uploads after a certain time by adding a deadline for uploading. Not only that, you can also automatically schedule a follow-up email in case they fail to upload them by the deadline. 

4. Invite your speakers for a demo 

Inviting your speakers for a demo may seem straightforward, but several hesitations and challenges may follow.

Speakers may hesitate to commit due to time constraints, and busy schedules. Some may feel unsure about their ability to deliver an engaging and effective demo, particularly if they have limited experience with public speaking or presenting in a live setting.

This is where you need to persuade them how a demo presentation can benefit them:

  • Emphasize how their expertise and demonstration will contribute to the overall success of the conference and enhance the learning experience for attendees.
  • Offer support and resources to help a speaker prepare for the big presentation. Provide coaching, guidelines, and tips for engaging their audience.
  • If they struggle to speak within the time frame, accommodate a visual aid system like timers to help them monitor their time.

Preseria: Streamlining Presentation Management for Event Organizers

Preseria stands out as a premier solution for handling the complex logistics of speaker presentations. More than just a storage solution, it serves as a centralized hub, designed specifically for the dynamic needs of conference and event organizers. Unlike conventional storage drives, Preseria simplifies the process of collecting, storing, and updating speaker presentation data. It ensures that the latest versions of presentations are automatically synchronized across session rooms as soon as updates are submitted.


With Preseria, event organizers can effortlessly incorporate last-minute modifications to presentation files, thanks to its intuitive interface. Furthermore, the platform streamlines the task of soliciting and collecting presentations from a vast number of speakers by automating reminder emails. This capability is invaluable in managing the extensive array of presentations typically involved in conferences and events, ensuring smooth operation and presentation delivery.

By prioritizing ease of use and efficiency, Preseria transforms the presentation management process, enabling organizers to focus on delivering memorable events while ensuring speakers can present their work without a hitch.

Have a conference coming up? Get in touch and book your demo with Preseria today!

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