Public Speaking Course:
Time of Day Matters
Here are some important points to remember from my public speaking
course that are related to the time of day you make your presentation.
The first speaker of the day for an early morning (7:00 a.m. to 9:00
a.m.) program should not expect a whole lot of laughter. People are not ready
to laugh at much in the early morning. Many won't even be awake
yet. Use more information and less humor.
I was asked by a sales speaker to open up an early morning public seminar.
He said, 'I just want you to get them laughing before I start speaking.'
I told him that it was not a good idea, but he insisted. I opened up
the seminar with some sure-fire humor to test their responsiveness and
got little response. I cut my material and brought the speaker on stage.
He couldn't get them laughing either. I sat in the audience and watched.
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 normally isn't expected. If you didn't know that early morning programs aren't the
best 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 all the time.
Most professional public speakers consider brunch 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. Lunch is generally
a time for good response for the same reasons as brunch.
In the afternoon people are already starting to get tired. 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 presenter 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 them. One time I was the last speaker
on a long program in Baltimore, Maryland, for a food service management
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.
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 public speaker's job.