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  • Writer's pictureYasmine El-Baz

Should you restart your presentation for latecomers?

The meeting was scheduled to start at 10 am, you even waited until a few minutes after 10 to start your presentation, but several minutes after you started speaking more people started walking in and took their seats.

You are now faced with a dilemma, should you repeat or summarize what you’ve said for the late arrivals or not?

And in order to check how people perceive the situation, I launched a poll over my LinkedIn, FB and Instagram accounts about whether you should repeat your presentation for the latecomers or not, and 78% of the answers said No.

I actually admire the fact that the professionals who answered the poll were keen on their audience's time, on the other hand, the rest of the answers were also keen to give the value to all the audience.

But how you should actually react in that situation is based on plenty of things:

1) Your audience number

2) Presentation duration

3) How long was the part that they missed?

4) Whether that part is essential and deal breaker in the presentation discussion or not?

5) Type of the speaking engagement (training, business presentation, conference speech..etc)

6) How familiar are you with the audience?

7) Will the late-comers affect the decision making process of the topic that's being discussed or not?

If you're short in time, then repetition won't be the right choice, the best thing to do is to use your audience to recap the points by asking them questions and encouraging them to share examples similar to the ones you used earlier, which will be also a great engagement tool that should be prepared and allocated in the original presentation time in advance.

If the audience number is big or your speaking engagement was at a conference, then you should not repeat what they missed in details and should continue your presentation's parts as planned.

If it was a training session, then the situation is much easier as the training should be designed in a way to recap each section in different ways, and on the other hand you'll have more time to explain what they missed either during the activities or the break.

But what is the only case that you'll have to repeat the full section in details? If the latecomers were decision makers in the topic that's being addressed and they have to be aware of all the details.

In that case, you can share the information again along with the discussion that was done over the information by the audience who attended from the beginning, this will keep the audience engaged and will keep the latecomers updated with the discussions that were done already to save time not to make them all over again.

One proactive action to take, is that if you were notified in advance that those decision makers will be late, then you can check if it's possible to reschedule your presentation time after your colleague's presentation for example, or to apply a backup plan and reorder your content so to discuss the part that will require their presence on a later stage of your presentation.

Another proactive thing to do, is to include breaks in between your presentation, especially if it was longer than one hour, and to have a print-out that's distributed to your audience, this will allow the latecomers to view the missed parts during the break and discuss them with you if they needed.

In addition to all the above, organize your content in a way that the core of your message is addressed after 20% of your presentation/speech time. This will not only help in situations like the one we are discussing in this article, but at that time the audience will be more familiar with your speaking style, engaged and open to the discussion.


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