Public Speaking With FlexTime

November 16th, 2006

Anybody who’s ever taken a public speaking class, in high school or college, remembers the strict time considerations that were placed on speech assignments. I remember mine, at City College of San Francisco, where the instructor would sit in the back corner of the room with a stopwatch around his neck. At the beginning of every speech he would start the timer, and any deviation from the assigned time of the speech would cost you serious points. I believe in my class it was a full grade reduction if you under or overshot the target by something like 30 seconds or a minute.

After I finished developing FlexTime, it occurred to me that it would have been the perfect tool to practice my public speaking assignments. By building a FlexTime routine comprised of different “activities” for each of the note cards comprising a speech, you could fine-tune the timing of a speech down to each specific topic and point. FlexTime text cues would make perfect reminders that it’s time to move on to the next topic. Each time you practiced the speech, immediate feedback from FlexTime would let you know whether you were getting more or less on target for the ideal timing.

It’s been years since I’ve given a formal speech in any context, so I haven’t had a chance to put this particular use case to the test. Geoff Pado is a young Mac software developer who also happens to be taking his high school speech class this year. Faced with a speech that needed to be at least 5:50 but no longer than 6:10, he decided to put FlexTime to the test. The results were glorious, as he describes being able to hit the target with very little practice. That’s a very tight window of time, and I’m sure most of his classmates weren’t nearly as successful at meeting the requirement.

Another weird success story for FlexTime!

8 Responses to “Public Speaking With FlexTime”

  1. Christian Says:

    I know the situtation which you have described. I am still a pupil of a highschool in Germany. Some teachers do it exactly the same way. In my opinion forcing the speaker to be “just in time” is senseless. If the speech is interesting why should one want to interrupt it? Only to be in just time? If I were a teacher I would try to “force” my pupils to make their speech interesting like a really well done movie. I would “force” them to be a better teacher. I would “force” them to let the listeners participate as much as possible. That is what should count. Of course I would interrupt a stupid, annoying speech… But of course: this new feature of FlexTime is great to do what teachers expect. And – if you want it or not: that is what counts.

  2. Geoff Pado Says:

    My teacher is actually very open on that front, Christian. We do, however, need to learn time limits in case it is an issue, as in a conference like WWDC, where you have limited session time. Each of our speeches has a “theme” and this one’s was time limits. All the others have only a minimum limit, and not a maximum.

  3. Christian Says:

    @ Geoff: Yes sure. But it is not important if you are talking 5 or 10 minutes as long your talk is interesting. Imagine Steve Jobs would talk 5-10 minutes longer as usual. Would this be a problem? I guess not.

  4. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Christian: this might be a contrived example, but it would certainly be important if it was part of a live television broadcast with a strict schedule, for instance. There are times in life where timing is important, but I agree with you that in general the quality of the content should be much more important.

    Mostly it’s a question of being in control of your delivery.

  5. systemsboy Says:

    Hey, don’t know if you’re interested in grammar corrections, but if so, the first line in your post should use “who’s” (as in “who has”) not “whose” (the possessive form).



  6. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Definitely interested. Fixed. Thanks for catching that.

  7. Christian Says:

    Yes. As I said: I like the idea using flextime for training speaking assignments. I just wanted to point out that its a pity that the timing is – in most cases – more important than the speech itself.

  8. Public speaking courses Says:


    The idea of having your speeches timed in a public speaking class is great! It might seem harsh at the time,. but we all hate speakers that go over time.

    A way to stay within time is to know what vyou have to say to your audience. Understanding your audience is key to getting your message across within time.

    I haev some other public speaking tips on my website have a look at see if any help.


    Darren Fleming
    Public Speaking coach

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