The day has come for your first big speech or presentation. You are feeling confident in your message and delivery. You’ve become an expert on your chosen subject, you know your presentation content, and you’ve rehearsed… what could go wrong? Perhaps you have overlooked a few final details? To guarantee your success, there are still a few final steps to take before you face your audience and thrill your boss, client, colleagues or meeting planner. Don’t overlook these pre-presentation strategies. Without them, you run the risk of derailing your confidence and your presentation.
1.) Check in early. Arrive early to check out the logistics of the room in which you will be speaking. Is there a platform? Where is it? Where will you be standing when you are introduced? How many steps for you to reach the lectern or center stage? Is the audience close enough to where you will be speaking to build intimacy? Is the light on you instead of the banner or the lectern if you are not standing behind it? Audience research proves if you put the sound up and the lights down the audience thinks they can’t hear.
2. Make friends with the stage. When the room is empty, walk on the stage and “block” your presentation, or plan where you are going to stand and when you are going to move during your speech. You do not want to distract from your message with unnecessary movement. Go through the outline of your talk. Imagine an enthusiastic response. The more time you spend in advance getting comfortable on stage the more you can relax and focus on the audience. This is what actors call “making friends with the stage.”
3. Set up a clock. Make sure you have a way to keep track of the time. To stay on track and on time, I’ve traveled with a large kitchen clock that I can view from a distance without glasses. Very few people know how long they have been speaking. If you are including Q & A, have a dramatic close or make sure the presentation has a “must-end-by” time. Scheduling this adds to your professionalism.
4. Familiarize yourself with the microphone. Do you have your preferred microphone – hand-held, lavaliere, or lectern? Practice talking into it. For a handheld, the proper placement is at chin level. Ask someone to walk around and check that you can be heard from all parts of the room. Make friends with the audio technicians. Make sure you are on time for your microphone check and thank them for their help when you have finished.
5. Double check any audio visual aids. If you are using a PowerPoint presentation make sure the equipment is working well. Are your PowerPoint slides in the right sequence? Do you have a remote control to change them? This way you can move around and are not chained to your computer. Consider changing your slide to black when you are not addressing what is on the screen. Is each slide visible and legible from the back of the room or auditorium? Are the talking points presented as a “build” or “reveal?” Remember, your visuals aids are a tool, not a crutch. They are there to add to your presentation, not distract from it.
6. Connect with the organizer or emcee. Be clear about who will introduce you, and where you will be during their comments. Will you walk on from the wings or up from the floor? Will you shake hands with him or her, or will they exit once you hit the stage and before the applause dies down. I recommend you nod and mouth, “Thank you.” If you are speaking at a banquet, check that you will have a clear path to the microphone without tripping over wires, chairs, or diners.
7. Provide a pre-written introduction. In advance, send your pre-written introduction to the person delivering it. Carry another two with you. Have it written in an 18-point, bulleted list. This is easier to read than paragraphs. Be sure your introducer knows how to pronounce your name correctly. It is a good idea to confirm they have the introduction and are comfortable with what is written. Make sure your introducer knows the introduction is prepared in a certain way to set the tone for your presentation.
8. Be your own warm up act. Connect with as many audience members as possible before you speak. When they see you are extending yourself they will return the favor of giving their attention. That only lasts a few minutes so make sure you grab their attention with a great opening.
Any speaking engagement or presentation can be intimidating. Staying focused on the positive impact of your presentation, preparing, and paying attention to these details will help you deliver the best speech possible.
If you want to become a great speaker easily, conveniently, and quickly, FrippVT can help. Enjoy three free chapters on Stories, Openings, and Sales: http://frippvt.com
“I highly recommend FrippVT to everyone who speaks in public or has to. It just doesn’t make sense to be without 24/7 access to the wisdom and experience of the master professional that Patricia Fripp is.”
– Pat Lynch, President, Business Alignment Strategies
“What Do You Do Just Before Your Presentation? – FrippVT Video,” “8 Mistakes Made when Presenting with PowerPoint® and How to Correct Them,” “How to Rehearse for Your Talk,” “Public Speaking – Delivery Strategy,” “Is Your Audience Hearing What You Want to Communicate?” and “Physical Preparation for Successful Public Speaking” are just a few of the many complimentary resources on Fripp.com to help you deliver a successful presentation.
Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.