Presentation Traps to Avoid #1. Looking at your Watch

There are a number of traps that inexperienced presenters can fall into when they first begin presenting. Any one of these traps can make your presentation look less professional than it otherwise would. I’ve just presented at a conference where I noticed something interesting. The presenter looked at their watch mid way through their presentation and I wondered whether it mattered or not.


Trap: Looking at your watch

Gosh it’s just so important to make sure that if you’re speaking or presenting at a meeting, conference, whether it’s live or virtual – you must make sure to finish on time. It’s the cardinal sin of speakers – going over your allocated time and cutting into someone else’s time – so please don’t do this!

Now, although you do need to keep track of how you are progressing through your presentation, you also need to be careful of how often you look at your watch. The audience likes to believe that you are there for them and you that you are enjoying being there with them. If you constantly look at your watch, it makes it look as though you cannot wait to finish the presentation and get away. It can also cause the audience to start looking at their watches too!


What can you do instead?

– Consider using a screen view on your slides, or on your virtual presenting screen (zoom, teams etc.) that shows you the time and your slides/audience at the same time.

–  Consider using a little travel clock that sits neatly on the lectern or on your desk near your virtual screen.

–  Can you rehearse your presentation so you know roughly how long each section takes? This will help you know you’re on time as you go through the presentation.

–  Be sure to add some group interaction and use those moments to check the time when no one is looking at you! 

– At a more formal presentation ask someone to hold up the 10 minute, 5 minute and 1 minute signs to let you know how you’re tracking.


These tips will help you to better manage your time.

Happy Presenting!


© Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business and she’s delivered her Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass over 900 times for ore than 10,000 people over the past 2 decades. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), creator of the Persuasion Smart Profile™ (a world-first psychological assessment tool that reports on your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media.

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