Presentations take place in all types and sizes of rooms. They may not even happen in a room at all. The space and the facilities it provides can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of any presentation.
I have 3 simple rules about the room you are using for your presentation.
1. Arrive early
You should always arrive early so that you can become accustomed to the room itself and check it over before your audience arrive.
Arriving just before you are about to present, means there is no time to fix any problems that you may find and no time to grow accustomed to your surroundings.
When you are one of a series of presenters, it is often best to practise your entrance. How will you get up to your speaking position? What does it feel like standing there? Where will I put my notes?
A word of warning if you are using cue cards or notes, do not leave them on a lectern, keep them with you. It is all too easy for the previous speaker or the MC to pick up your notes along with theirs, leaving you helpless.
Make a note of where people come in. Will late comers be able to join without interrupting your flow?
2. Make it tidy
You should minimise the number and level of distractions, so that the audience pays attention to you.
Is it tidy?
All too often presentations are made in an internal office room where various debris has been left behind by the previous occupant, including: writing on the white board or flipchart, books and papers left on desks or window sills, pieces of computer equipment that are not currently in use. All these things work as distractions from your presentation and should be tidied up before your audience arrive.
Make a note where people come in. Will late comers be able to join
without interrupting your flow?
3. Check all the equipment
Make sure everyone can see you and the screen or flipchart (assuming you are using one). Try sitting in the back row to check that you can read the content of your slides.
To make sure people can hear you, ask a friend or colleague to sit in the back row during the presentation, they can then signal to you if your voice is too quiet.
Make sure that you know how to operate any equipment. Do not forget to turn off your mobile phone and the screensaver on your laptop. Killing your WIFI will stop any instant messages or tweets appearing.
I remember one seminar I attended which comprised of a presentation and a demonstration of a computer system. The presentation went well until it came to the demo. The PC being used for the demo had a screensaver that could only be unlocked with a password. Unfortunately, the PC had been borrowed from another member of staff and nobody in the room knew the password.
If you are using PowerPoint, a little known trick is to set the presentation up and then press " B" . This turns the screen black so that your first slide is not displayed until you are ready to begin. Pressing " B" again turns on the presentation. Similarly, " W" will turn the screen white.
If you are going to use a flipchart or whiteboard, make sure the pens all work.
If you are using a microphone, make sure you know how to turn it on and do not forget to turn it off when you leave the stage. You do not want your private conversations being broadcast to the whole room.
While Iím on the subject of microphones, donít be tempted to tap it or shout " testing, one, two, three" to see if it working, it will make you look very unprofessional.
With modern projection equipment, you should not need to turn the lights down for people to see the screen, however it is always wise to check that there are no awkward reflections, which might interfere with peopleís vision.
In summary, the three rules of the room are:
Sodís Law states that if you rely on any machinery it will go wrong when you are most need it to work. Bearing this in mind it is often useful to have a back-up plan in mind in case your equipment fails.
Probably the best piece of advice I have ever been given is not to rely on your slides to remind you what you will be talking about. That way if the slides can not be displayed or the projector breaks part of the way through your presentation; you can still finish your presentation.
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