Is it enough to simply have a good presentation? Would a play have the same impact if there were no costumes, no amplification or lighting? What’s the difference between staging a play and preparing a presentation? In reality, very little! There are quite a few common elements and a shared goal: holding the audience’s attention and making an impact.
Thinking beyond the presentation is essential and doing it well in advance can make a big difference. Here are some questions you should consider and immediately think about while planning your presentation:
Do you know the space? Are you familiar with the venue?
Knowing the environment… whether a conference room, boardroom or ballroom… can and should affect your preparation. Get as much detail as you can prior to the event. If you cannot visit the space prior to the day, make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes before your start time. Walk around and become comfortable with the room, transform it from an impersonal space to a welcoming, cozy area that will make listeners even more receptive to your message.
What type of equipment do you need?
Are you using PowerPoint or other presentation tools? Will you need a screen, Wi-Fi, clicker to advance the slides, microphone, or teleprompter? All of these pieces of equipment require consideration and planning. Don’t wait the last minute or assume someone else is taking care of them. In addition, be sure to test the equipment and troubleshoot the logistics at least 30 minutes prior to the time listeners will be arriving. If something isn’t the way you need it to be, you’ll have time to get it fixed or implement “Plan B.”
Will you be standing or sitting?
Yes, you should think about this! Your position in a room can make all the difference to your audience. You may want to consider sitting if you are presenting in a small room or if the organizational culture of a company prefers an environment where things have a more personable feel and everyone is regarded more or less as peers.
The same principles apply whether standing or sitting. Sit or stand with an erect posture to project confidence, credibility and conviction. Maintain eye contact even if you have to turn your body to make that contact with those adjacent to you.
How will your audience hear you?
“Can you hear me now?” is more than an advertising campaign by Verizon. It’s an important part of any presentation. Your voice needs to be loud enough to reach the people in the back of the room without blasting the people in the front of the room. As a rule, if the room is longer than 40 feet in any given direction, a sound system of some sort will be needed and should be requested in advance. Again, arrive early enough to perform a sound check.
Where will your audience be sitting in relation to you?
If you have control over this area, comfortable seating is an obvious element. Placement of seating is also important. All seats should have an unobstructed view of you and any visual support being used for the presentation.
What will you wear?
When you step up to speak it is all about “presence”. How you present yourself will influence how your audience receives you. Keep in mind that your dress should be only slightly more formal than what you anticipate your audience will wear. Keep your colors conservative and slightly muted. Men, button your jacket! Women, wear your “presentation shoes” during rehearsal – to ensure you can move about easily and safely. Have your attire planned well in advance and make sure it allows you to move with comfort and confidence.
Preparing what you will say in a presentation is just the beginning — staging your presentation well is like directing and performing a play. It’s not enough to think about how you feel about your presentation. You have to think about how it looks from the audience’s perspective as well!