I constantly see presenters futzing around with their computers mere minutes before they go on …. and often minutes after they should have started. It simply shouldn’t happen in most of those cases.
Here’s the secret: Show up early.
But, there’s actually more to it than that! To be really successful on stage, there are a number things you need to do before your presentation. If you complete them all, you’ll be much more successful. I’ve seen too many horror stories from presenters who showed up five minutes ahead of time and expected everything to go just fine.
Play for the video below and get the list of “must-dos.”
Check out the room. Walk the stage area. Get used to where the audience will be and make changes to the seating arrangement or stage layout, if necessary.
One of the most important reasons to get there early is to feel comfortable with the set-up. Here are some things that will affect your performance if you’re not ready for it:
- Are the lights on the stage so bright that they’re blinding when you look at the audience?
- How far away is the audience? Will this affect your ability to connect with them?
- If you’re using visual support, do you have a way of seeing what’s on the screen without turning towards it? The best idea is a small monitor at the edge of the stage that gives you a preview of the screen.
- Is there water available?
- Is there a light so you can see your notes, if you need to? Is there a lectern and do you really need one?
- Do you have space to move around on stage?
Get any technical set-up done well ahead of time so that you’re ready to go ahead of schedule. Because this is where the gremlins show up. If you’re working with an audio-visual crew, get any video or audio material to them well ahead of time so that they can test it for their system, set the sound levels and make sure it’s cued and ready to go exactly when you need it. This is perhaps the biggest mistake novice conference presenters make. DVDs and CDs are problematic and can really mess up your presentation if not checked out in advance.
Hook your computer up to the projector and make sure you’ve got a picture. Make sure your computer’s screens are configured properly and that the remote works. If it’s not yours, get a quick lesson on how it operates. Here’s my video on setting up screens to allow you to preview the next slide.
Then take a deep breath, relax … and mingle. That’s right … meet as many people in the audience as you can. Get a feeling for what they’re like. Ask questions. Find out what they’re expecting; what they’ve been told about your presentation.
This does two things – it makes you appear human, one of the group. And more importantly, it calms your nerves. Because if you find out that there are human beings in the audience just like you, you’ll find you’ll relax much more and your opening will be like greeting old friends.
After all, a presentation is its best when it’s a dialogue – a conversation between you and your audience. So show up early … and become one of the group. It can often make the difference in whether you really “click” with the entire room.
Being properly prepared, super-organized, and totally relaxed is the most important thing you can do before a presentation to make sure you’re in the right frame of mind to be at your very best! Today, that’s what you need to be really effective!