Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective, Part 5
Welcome to the fifth part of this new “42 things” series entitled ‘Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective’ – you can catch up from previous posts, starting at the first part Giving Presentations, From An Audience Perspective, Part 1.
Preparation is a good general rule but can also be vital for delivering a good presentation. In this part we will talk about preparation during the time prior to the presentation itself including familiarisation with the venue to resisting the urge to fiddle with things.
Get Familiar With The Venue
Get familiar with the venue before the presentation. Turn up early and check the place out, especially looking out for potential problems. I went to a seminar held in a cinema complex and every twenty minutes the public ambient music kicked in for a few minutes drowning out the speaker. It was funny the first few times but two hours in and it became quite annoying and created a distraction which detracted from the presenter. Some months down the line I can remember the sound problem but I cannot remember what point the speaker was trying to make at the time.
Notice where people are likely to enter and exit the venue, will they need to walk in front of you to leave? Where are the toilets in case you are asked. Are your trailing cables in the way? Is something likely to get pulled out by accident or create a hazard?
Sometimes things like this cannot be avoided or anticipated but it is worth doing a little reconnaissance beforehand:
- Do sounds kick in at certain times?
- Is the lighting variable – is it dim enough to see any projection?
- What about sunlight? Does it stream in or can it be closed out with curtains or blinds effectively?
- Is the screen focused and the projection screen the correct distance?
- How does the microphone and amplification system work?
- Do the speakers work – are they too loud or not loud enough (try from different areas of the room)?
- Can the on-screen text be read from the back of the room?
Take A Backup Of Your Presentation With You
USB drives are fairly cheap these days. Something may happen to your machine and you may have to borrow another one. Do not rely on an Internet connection for a backup of your presentation unless you can be absolutely sure it will be available to you at a moments notice. If you can, take your presentation with you on physical media. If you are presenting in PowerPoint then it might be worth taking a copy of PowerPoint Viewer with you on the USB drive, just in case the machine you borrow does not have PowerPoint installed (or the wrong version!).
Resist The Temptation To Fiddle
Don’t be tempted to play or fiddle with the presentation computer too much before the presentation. Try and avoid installing software (including patches or upgrades) on the presentation computer the night before (or on the day of) the presentation. Sometimes saying that something doesn’t work because of a recent patch or upgrade can be a great excuse for when things go wrong but it can also make the presenter look unprepared and lose the confidence of the audience. If you must install something then check your presentation and your demos to ensure they still work – demos and slides are only good if the audience can see them.
Arrive And Set Up Early
Arriving early will also allow you to setup early. Check everything then double-check everything. Create a checklist before you arrive and keep it handy – you may be nervous and apprehensive so don’t leave things to chance. Locate your power points and make sure your laptop is charged (hopefully it should be fully charged already). Take a few adaptors with you (sound and video), possibly even a multi-way adaptor just in case there is a last minute change of equipment. Look around whilst you are setting up so that when your time comes to present you know where things are. If time allows run through your presentation slides and demos in the venue to make sure they still work in the venue environment. Try not to be setting up when audience members start arriving – this is time where you should be relaxing and interacting with people.
Prepare The Venue – If You Can
If possible, make sure the room is not too warm or too cold. Ensure loose cables are not laying around ready for people to fall over – or get tangled up in. Are peoples heads likely to be in front of the projection (this has happened!) ? Test the lights and sound system so you know how they work. Be familiar with the entrance and exits so you can guide people when you need to. Check the seating – are there any blind spots that need to be dealt with?
Check Equipment Beforehand
It may be worth taking an extension lead with you. Do not be surprised if the venue is short of power plugs or has to undergo a last minute change. Check all your equipment, is everything there? Do you have hand-outs or cue cards in case of emergency?
Some of the things you should check and deal with prior to the event:
- Backup presentation on physical media, cue cards or hand-outs
- Fuses in plugs
- Screen savers and automatic updates
- Loading and starting the presentation slides
- The audio system
- The projection system
- Internet connection (if necessary)
Capture Yourself For Review
If you are planning to take a video or recording equipment you might want to ensure the audience is aware of this beforehand. If possible setup a video or webcam and record your presentation. Watch it back and you will see the areas the you need to work on.
This article was brought to you by Jason Slater Technology Blog
Catch Up Posts…
- Giving Presentations, From An Audience Perspective
- Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective #2
- Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective #3
- Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective, Part 4
Previous 42 things…