[Image by Gerd Altmann of Pixabay]

Breaks during a presentation are often a necessity.  Why? Good question and the answer is: 1. bio break 2. catch-up via email, text, or phone 3. process 4. chance to energize or move. Those are all possibilities to consider for your attendees however there are additional considerations which include:

  • When should a break be offered?
  • How long should a break be?
  • What factors will affect a break?

Let’s look at each of the aforementioned.

A short break should be offered every 20 minutes or a longer break should be considered after 90 minutes.  The speaker may opt for different choices but those are two that are effective.

When the speaker offers the attendees a break, it is recommended that an odd amount of time be used. As an example, instead of telling participants that their break will be 10 minutes (shorter) it’s advisable to say 7.5 minutes. The issue is that saying 10 minutes is what many people are accustomed to hearing and they will therefore turn 10 minutes into 12-15 minutes. Unless the speaker finds that acceptable, use a shorter and less common break time to ensure most attendees will follow.

A variety of factors affect a break.  For instance, the use of bright lights will encourage most people to adhere to the break time.  Also, telling participants in advance the location of restrooms is one way of helping people to get back in a timely manner.  If food or beverages/hydration are available, it is strongly suggested that there are ample supplies and that they are set out enough in advance. Another option is offering a reward or prize to the person/people who are on time. This may be small or a token gesture if the speaker chooses.

Whether the speaker(s) is using a short or long break, resuming on time is critical.  It makes a statement to those in attendance and it also helps the speaker to maintain their overall time.  If people do not adhere to the break time you stated, it’s essential to avoid mentioning it or punishing them in any way.  Respect that they’re all adults and made their own decision.

Please think about adding in a break time knowing that you may always adjust the amount of time you designate. When the speaker adds a break, it cuts down on listeners being distracted and aids in stronger retention of the information presented.

If you’d like to discuss any of this content with me, please email me [email protected], call 518-664-6004 or set up a virtual  or in-person meeting. You and your situation are unique; I’m always happy to help and get you the results you need.