Public Speaking Course:
Time of Day Matters
As you will learn from my public speaking course, the time of day when you
present can have a big effect on how the audience will react to you.
If you are the first speaker of the day around 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. in the
morning, don't expect a whole lot of laughter. Most people are not
even fully wake and are probably not going to laugh at much in the early
morning. Use more information and less humor.
I was once asked to open up an early morning public seminar. The sales
speaker told me that he just wanted me to get them laughing before he went on. 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 just brought the speaker on stage. He couldn't get them laughing
either. Curious, I sat in the audience and watched what would happen throughout
the rest of the presentations. By 10:15 a.m. they were laughing at pretty much
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 you wouldn't expect a lot of laughter.
If you didn't know that early morning programs aren't the best time for
laughter, your confidence could be shaken so badly that the rest of your speech
could suffer. Also, keep in mind that I am giving you general guidelines. You
might have a lively group some morning, just don't expect it all the time.
Most professional speakers consider brunch and lunch time to be the best time
of day to expect an awake and 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 listening to different presentations. Because of this they will retain less
because they are not listening as closely as they did in the morning. You can
use more funny material 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 the day should not expect a great response either,
because the audience is 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
So instead of going on with my intended program I said to them;
"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.