Presentations: You’re ON in 60 minutes

holding stop watch

Savvy presenters understand that the hour prior to going live is more stressful than the presentation itself. With your preparation and rehearsals behind you, you’re dealing with last minute issues such as arriving at the venue on time and organising your set up. Hopefully, the hour prior to that was used to finalise how you will establish context by starting strong in order to set up your presentation. But now it’s mostly logistical stuff and you need to be properly set up. So what exactly do you need to do to ensure that you hit the podium running?

It may be true that the audience obtains their first impression of you within the first 10 seconds, but it is your impression of yourself that will give you the confidence to persevere and build a convincing, vibrant presentation. That is why the period immediately before you start is very important. A significant challenge is often the environment. Unless you’re “playing at home” under familiar circumstances, the chances are that there all be more than one factor that could throw you off guard. Since it is virtually impossible to anticipate and prepare for all eventualities, you need to do what you reasonably can to ensure that you can attend to the matters at hand in good time without becoming flustered. Your most effective weapon therefore, is simply having enough spare time. So it pays to arrive early. That way you may also miss the worst of the traffic, and can attend to any issues regarding seating, audio, visual or lighting.

Surprisingly, another obstacle can be the people organising the event. Although you may be the one booked to present, it is unlikely that your set up is high on their agenda. They have other things keeping them occupied. So when you arrive make a brief but thorough assessment of the situation, find out who is in charge, introduce yourself in a warm, friendly manner to the audio technician and make it clear politely but assertively exactly what your requirements are and by when you’ll be needing them. Don’t be afraid to do regular checks. Having to wait 20 minute for an extension lead may be inconsequential to them, but could be stressful for you. Check that the supplied equipment works and that you know how it works.

Always have enough time for 5 deep breaths and a voice warm up in the final 10 minutes. A half a cup of warm water is also a good idea – but avoid large drinks, as you don’t want your bladder filling up excessively while you struggle through your presentation. Any flasks with ice water should be removed – that’s the last thing you want as it constricts your vocal chords.

The night before make sure that you’ve packed everything you need including your presentation back up stored in a separate place. And most important, no excessive eating, alcohol consumption or late nights. You want to be well rested so that you are ready to tackle whatever obstacles await you with a clear head.

It will be just your luck that with all this careful preparation, you arrive and find that everything runs perfectly – like clockwork. Well, that’s what usually happens when you’re properly prepared!

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