How many times have you found yourself, much like me, attending a conference, presentation, seminar and the presenter and/or the facility is ill prepared to make the most of the time?
This may sound curt on my part, yet I find it interesting how many "professionals" don't truly understand the importance and significance of making sure the attendee has a great experience. In my world I believe we need to put ourselves, as the presenter, into the shoes of the participant. What do I mean by that? They are giving up their time to be a part of whatever this program is. Time is the 1 thing in life you can never get back. Why don't we hold it as such a valuable commodity?
Here's an example.
This morning I attending a training workshop put on by a fledgling group in my town. Their mission statement intrigued me and I found my schedule was open for the 8:30-11:00 a.m. timeslot their marketing told me this presentation would take.
I arrived at 8:25 found a seat at 1 of the round tables set up for the program. At 8:30 the minute came and went, then 8:34, then 8:35 finally at 8:40 the "host" of the event went to the microphone and proceeded to BLAST us out of the room with the volume being WAY TOO LOUD! She introduced the sponsors for the event and we all applauded to thank them for their contribution. Then she introduced the major sponsor and proceeded to read his entire life resume from college until now. He then got up, again on the BOOM microphone and welcomed us. He then introduced the presenter for the day.
She grabbed the microphone and started to walk out into the audience and realized the cord only reached 5 feet in front of the podium, which incidentally happened to be right under 1 of the ceiling speakers. This, if you don't know, causes the sound system to feedback with that ear piercing squeal that most presenter seem to never understand. Let me tell you-you are typically "recycling" your sound. What I mean by this is you are either standing under a speaker or in line with you whereby the speaker is projecting the sound and the microphone is grabbing it again-thus the squeal. STEP AWAY FROM THAT SPOT! It's not about moving the mic away from your mouth. It's about stopping the recycling of sound through the system. WHEW......breathe, breathe, breathe..
Now, before you think I'm being a total jerk about this, think about what I'm saying. You invest your time and quite often your money to attend these types of presentations. Doesn't the presenter and/or those who are producing the event owe it to you to make sure things work right? How would you feel if you invested $60 to see your favorite music star and they take to the stage late and then proceed to have so much sound system feedback you can't hear or understand a word they are singing? Would you walk away being OK or would you find a way to complain to someone about it? Why isn't this the same thing?
So here's my idea and thus this post. Effective Presenting: 7 Steps to Ensure a Great Audience Experience.
- Timing: As the presenter, arrive early. I recommend at least 1 hour before the scheduled start time.
- Set Up: Make sure the room is set up to your expectations for your program. If not, get it reset. You are in charge not the facility you are holding the meeting in. If you need it changed, get it changed.
- Sound Check: Grab the microphone and do a sound check. If it's a corded mic, check the distance you can move with the chord and all areas to find those "feedback spots" and make mental note not to stand there.
- Sound Check II: If you are using a cordless mic or lavaliere do the same thing. If you plan to walk throughout the room do this as a sound check. Remember the musician example above, they set up and do a sound check hours before the audience arrives. You should to!
- Respect Time: Start on time and end on time. In my example above, we started 10 minutes late and the program ran 10 minutes late. This is inexcusable if you want to be known as a professional! Remember time is not replaceable. Don't waste it for your attendees and don't assume they are all OK if you run over because you started late.
- Technology- Just as important as a sound check is a technology check. What I mean is if you fall into the myriad of presenters who rely on PowerPoint presentations, make sure the presentation works with the projector at the facility. In addition, if you'll be using music and/or video as part of your presentation, sound check each of these as well.
- Know your Audience- if you are presenting a topic you're not the "expert" in, don't fake it. Don't go online and grab information without knowing who to attribute it to nor who they really are. We can all do that. Be honest, do your research, dig deeper. Understand you will almost always have that audience member who'll want to know who that person is you're quoting if they aren't an easily recognizable source.
Thanks for indulging me in this. I worked hard to stay in curiosity and out of judgment in this experience yet I found myself really wanting to stand up and just handle what wasn't working.