No matter how well you’ve prepared your presentation, there is a point at which your time has run out. When the minutes start counting down and you have just an hour before you’re due to go live, where exactly will you be?
You can be in a relaxed state, well prepared, having just parked outside the presentation venue. You’re at the right place – early. You’ve got your back up drive, you’ve packed all your cables. you have cue cards just in case you go blank, but you won’t – because you’re prepared and you’ve rehearsed. Your clothes are right for the occasion – smart but not too stuffy. Shoes are polished, hair is neat. You left your hotel extra early just in case, and had a clear run through to the venue. This meant checking out of your hotel and paying your extras the night before, and getting up extra early the next morning.
You know how you’ll start. Your topic is interesting and you have 2 compelling stories that will illustrate your key points. You’ve timed exactly where you need to be at what point so that you finish on time without rushing. And when you close off, it will be decisive and powerful. You’ve done this before, you know what to expect – you’re set for success.
Alternatively – you’re feeling just a little nervous – in fact, very nervous. You’ve been this route before. You know from past experience that you’re not much of a public speaker, and you keep telling yourself that because when you fail, it won’t have been unexpected. Right now you’re stuck in traffic. You arranged for someone to meet you so that you would have a relaxed set up. But your B&B only served breakfast at 7am, so you had to wait. There’s still time to get there, but instead of a leisurely set up, it will be rushed. You hope your contact is there to meet you – unfortunately you forgot to take down their cell number, so you can’t phone and check.
A rushed start can undo hours of preparation. And it’s a real pity, considering the time, effort and expense you put in to creating a really great presentation. Not to mention your audience research, beautiful slides and then all that rehearsing.
If you really want your presentation to be a success, you need to set yourself up for success.
1. The venue needs to be appropriate for the kind of presentation you’re going to deliver. This includes lighting, sound, seating, comfort, air conditioning and other logistics. You can only ensure this if you get there early, or preferably the day before.
2. The audience needs to know what to expect. That’s often what draws them to come and hear you. Once they’re there, they will not want to be disappointed. You should arrange a proper introduction. When you start, set your context clearly.
3. You, the presenter need to be thoroughly prepared with a very clear objective. You should have rehearsed, and you need to know exactly what you’re going to do and what you’ll be speaking about. You need to be in the right frame of mind to deliver the best presentation you can in the moment.
4. You not only need to be ready to start on time, but even early if the occasion demands it for whatever reason. You may even need to make adjustments in the event of a late start and a request to shorten your presentation at the last minute.
Many a seemingly well prepared presentation has been undone on the day due to a rushed set-up. It would be a shame were this to happen to you. Preparation only stops the second you step on to the podium. Make sure that your set up is relaxed and free of stress.
When the audience arrives, you should be all set up and ready to go. Not only will you enjoy yourself more – but your audience will get what they came for – your commanding performance!
It is quite remarkable how confident one can become with just a few successive wins under your belt.