It’s easy to spot people with poor awareness of time. They talk longer than necessary in meetings. They’re difficult to get off the phone. In conversation, they don’t get to the point quickly. These folks are your classic time-wasters.

But we’re all time-wasters every once in a while. Good awareness of time requires focus, a concern for others and an internal clock that’s in good working order.

In The Connectors, I wrote about one of the most exceptional speakers I had ever heard. He has an incredible sense of time, and he puts it to use in his presentations as well in meetings and conversations.

Once, he was asked to speak for 40 minutes to a group of financial advisors. The speakers before him had run past their allotted time, so when it was his turn, he told the announcer he could get the show back on schedule. He did his 40-minute presentation in five minutes, without ever glancing at his watch. (It was, by the way, the highest rated presentation of the day.)

Whether attending a meeting, talking on the phone or delivering a presentation, you can stay on schedule and deliver compelling information with these key guidelines:

  • Get to the point. Determine the information that is most important, compelling and potentially valuable to your audience. Then deliver it.
  • Come prepared. Know how long it will take to describe certain elements of your business, products or services. And practice.
  • Time yourself. If you find yourself “going long” in meetings, check your watch. When you are done, check again. How much of the meeting did your conversation occupy? Was the time justified by the information you delivered?

In the business world, time is always in short supply — it’s a very valuable commodity. The last thing you need is for people to waste it—including yourself!

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.