Posted by: Marty Fahncke | June 27, 2008

Sit down and shut up

I arrived home late last night from Salt Lake City, where I was training 200 call center reps for a new product launch I’m managing. 

The training lasted 11 hours. 

It was only supposed to last 10. 

Why the extra hour? 

Because of inconsiderate people who don’t comply with the time allocation they’ve been given for a presentation.  


Let me explain…

There were four training sessions throughout the day, with four clients presenting at each session.  Each client was given 40 minutes to train. 

ONE of the clients went over their time limit by at least 10-15 minutes at each and every session.  They had no consideration whatsoever for the timing, schedule, and logistics of the 200+ other people involved in the training process.

This delay pushed the entire training schedule off track, causing a lot of stress, anxiety and even a missed flight for another group who was there. 

Recently, my mom joined a local “professional networking” group where each person present is given one minute to deliver an “elevator speech”.

It drove her crazy, because certain people went 2, 3, or even 4 minutes over their allotted time.  She finally quit the group for a couple of reasons, but this was one of the biggest ones.  Their loss.

Bottom line:  If you are a speaker, trainer, presenter, sales person, giving a networking pitch, conducting the weekly staff meeting, or in front of an audience for ANY reason…if you’ve been given a time limit, PLEASE sit down and shut up when you hit that limit. 

The audience, the organizers, and the presenters following you will greatly appreciate it. 

PS – If you need help learning how to craft an effective presentation within a time limit, RUN, don’t walk to your nearest Toastmasters club.  I HIGHLY recommend it!


  1. Touche’ on this blog. First time i have heard the problem being addressed (and it IS a problem). Good for you. I hope those who this applies to recognize it. Probably not.

  2. @Kellie – I hope so too! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more! When I worked in the real world (before Camden) we were trained to watch your time when you are talking to a group. There were meetings that I would have to attend and you knew when certain people got up to speak you were going to have to be there a while. I can STILL name them to this day.
    I now work at a Mother’s Day Out program two days a week and our directer would drag things out that didn’t need to be dragged out!

    Keep on Keepin’ on!

    Smile 🙂

  4. Amen and Amen –

    And when you are running the show you need to “man or woman up” and tell the folks with the mouth running over that it will not happen in the next lecture. Remember the sound board is your friend – pull the plug.

    You certainly have hit a nerve with this one.

    keep up the great work Marty!

  5. @Korey – VERY good point!

    The people with no “off” switch on their mouth are only part of the problem…

    The leader of the meeting or event also has to take responsibility and advocate for their audience.

    Thanks for making this great observation.

  6. Marty,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. This has been a real problem recently in some of my activities. Fortunately, it was recognized, addressed and continues to be closely monitored. Toastmasters is indeed one of the best ways to learn how to speak and present within time. When you see that green light come on you know it is time to bring home your message, the yellow tells you to wrap it up now and the red is the “sit down and shut up”.
    Thanks for bringing this up.

  7. @Michelle – Glad you have found ways to “recognize, address and monitor” the problem! Great additional information about Toastmasters as well. Appreciate your comments!

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