Master Your Message Blog

Why You Need to Be In-Control of Your Presentation Set-Up

Hotel put chandeliers and columns in all the wrong places

Chandeliers and columns!

On my travels in the corporate presentation world, I’ve seen some horrendous presentation set-ups. And in a lot of cases, people aren’t even aware of the problem.

The worst culprit – hotels. You’d think it would be different … for an industry whose income relies on the success of conventions …. Why do they stick chandeliers and posts right in the sight lines of the stage? And lights right above the screen?

Room lights are often the worst! But many presenters don’t pay any attention to them. Well, I’m telling you that they’re important! It can affect the way the audience reacts to both you and your presentation.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a convention situation or the board room; how you look at the front of the room goes beyond just you … to everything around you.

There are six items below that I take particular care to pay attention to. And there’s a video to sum it all up! Enjoy.

Your success on stage depends upon everything being right.

It’s dictator time! Yes, bring out the control freak in you. Here are some other things to think about:

  • Try to get the screen moved or the lights turned off. If the screen is under pot lights or near light shining directly on it, make sure it gets moved. There are professional presenters I know who have gone as far as to unscrew light bulbs in the case of unresponsive hotel staff. I’ve done it myself! It will have a huge negative affect on your presentation if you don’t. So … DO IT!
  • Don’t put the screen in the middle of the stage, if you can help it. Stick it off to one side, I prefer stage left … your left when you’re looking at the audience.
  • In television, moving to the right of the frame is perceived as moving forward, the left, moving backwards. So, I think it’s better if the screen is to the audience’s right because every time you motion to it, you’re motioning forward … ahead … that’s positive. Now, if you’re talking about the past and are showing historical pictures, then you’ll probably want to do the opposite.
  • Try and remove as many barriers as possible to communication. I’m not a big fan of lecterns for that very reason – they create a barrier – often it can’t be helped.
  • Take a critical look at the room lights. Usually “half-mast” is about right. If your audience will be taking notes, you want to make sure the lights up up high enough to allow it comfortably. If you’re using visual support, they need to be just low enough to allow for that, too. And remember, you’re more important than your visual support. Your screen should have a dark background so they don’t overpower you on stage. You need to be lit well-enough to stand out from your supporting visuals.
  • And the audience? You’ll be funnier in a room where members of the audience can see each other. We laugh more when we see others laugh. Round tables are great for that – classroom or theatre style not so great.

It’s up to you to ensure you have the best set-up.

Get there early … better still, check these things out before the big day. There is absolutely nothing like having a feeling of being in control when you’re in front of an audience. You’ll be more confident and your performance will be that much better, as a result.

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