It’s important that on the day you are speaking you arrive at the venue early, before the audience, and check the room. Even the best laid plans can go wrong. You may have done your homework, found out as much as you can about the venue and there is a last minute change that no-one told you about. It’s better to find out half an hour before you speak than a few minutes before.
Check everything again
Check that everything you have already been told, is correct. If there is a change, don’t insist on changing it again, unless it is vital to the success of your presentation. Sometimes your contact in the organisation is not responsible for the final setup. Adjust to the change as much as you can then just get on with it.
Check the equipment
Even if you checked your laptop and projector before you left home, set them up and check them again. Make sure you have enough adapters and cables and that they are not lying about where someone can trip over them. Don’t assume you will be provided with pens for flipcharts and whiteboards – take spares. Have a run though with the microphone, if you are using one, check the sound, adjust the height.
Check the temperature
If you are too cold or too warm, the chances are the audience will be too and this is a distraction. Ask to have the temperature adjusted before the meeting begins.
Check the lighting
You don’t want to be plunged into darkness during your speech when someone tries to be helpful and adjusts the dimmer switch only to turn the lights off by mistake.
Walk around the room
Sit in a seat in different parts of the room. Look at what the audience can see so you know where to position yourself on the stage. There may be tall pillars, plants or other obstructions in their line of vision. Make sure everyone will be able to see and hear you.
Walk around the speaking area
If you can’t visit the venue for an advance trial run, this is the next best thing. Familiarise yourself with the stage, get used to being on it, gauge the amount of floor space you have to move around and how much you need. Looking out at the audience area, decide how far you will have to project your voice and how you will make eye contact – don’t forget the back and the front of the room. Are there are any dips in the flooring or places where you can catch your foot? Are there any cables you will need to avoid? Are there any lights shining into your eyes?
Your speaking environment is important to your overall presentation. When you speak, you need to concentrate on getting your message across to the audience, not on external irritations.
Once you have gathered as much information as you can before the event and checked the room as best you can on the day you will be more relaxed and able to mingle with the audience, knowing that the stage is set for a successful presentation.