If you are part of an olio, and you are told you have seven minutes...DON'T TELL FOR MORE THAN SEVEN MINUTES!
That is easy enough to say, but it is not always easy to do, you say? Well, have no fear, here is a blog post to help.
When people organize events, they want them to run as smoothly as possible. They don't want to be too off time. If you run ten or fifteen minutes (heaven's above) beyond the time you are supposed to use, then you crunch everyone else, and you stress out the organizers.
I am not the only one who starts rethinking their stories as they realize someone in the line-up has just decided time be damned and is going on and on and on.
So, how can you make sure that you are not committing this truly abominable sin? Here are some suggestions.
1) Do not tell a story that requires a great deal of ad lib.
As soon as you start adding to the tale, if you get lots of audience response, it might be hard for you to move through the story. I have seen any number of tellers who get lost in their own work, and blow right through their time. In fact, if you have some kind of really hard deadline like ten minutes or less, don't ad lib at all unless your story is only four or five minutes long, or you have an amazing interior timekeeper and can get back on track.
2) Know your story VERY well.
3) If you know the story normally takes thirty minutes...don't try to tell it in seven!
Unless you have successfully managed to tell this story in the allotted time, don't break it out and see whether or not it works when there are five other people counting on you to give them their space to perform.
4) Be honest with yourself about your inner timekeeper.
Your inner timekeeper gives you a heads up about when you are getting close to time. My inner timekeeper is really good with stories I know well and have told hundreds of times, but it is less good when I am working with an unfamiliar story. In that situation, I set a timer. There is no shame in setting an alarm to make sure you don't tell a twenty minute story when you are only supposed to tell a twelve minute one.
5) if you think you might need an external time keeper...arrange for a signal with someone in the audience.
You can always ask someone to give you a sign when you have two minutes left. This is usually enough time to wrap up whatever you are doing and come to a conclusion of some kind.
Don't get a reputation for blowing through your time. It will follow you.
Good luck out there as we come into the cold part of the year.
Happy Being A Considerate Teller!