iSpeakEASYblog

Signs Of A Deadly Presentation

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Public Speaking on November 17, 2010 at 9:17 PM

Speaking Tip # 60

I knew I was in trouble as I walked in the room. The speaker had not said a word yet my expectations were low and getting lower.

The room was dry and sterile – nothing inviting about it. It was dimly lit with the ubiquitous blue image on the screen signaling an impending PowerPoint. The room was hard to find – there were no signs to direct me and I was irritated at the cost of parking my car. I noticed the room was devoid of refreshments – including water or coffee. I thought longingly of the last cup of coffee sitting in the carafe at home and the bottle of water on the front seat of my car.

It was one minute to start time and I was already watching the clock. The presenter had shot himself in the foot before opening his mouth.

I contrast this with a workshop I attended a few days prior. An email provided me with directions, a map, and other basic information. When I approached the building there was a sign outside directing me to the workshop. I was greeted by an enthusiastic instructor who warmly welcomed me, directed me to a spread of food, offered me a nametag, and took time to introduce me to another person she felt I would “click” with. The room was bright and cheerful and the food delicious.

Yes, it does take extra time, effort, and sometimes money to make your audience feel like a guest rather than a number. However, one of these instructors had turned me off before he started speaking. The other had won me over to her side.

Here are some hints to help you:

  • Use directional signs from the parking all the way to the room
  • Send a welcoming note explaining logistics, parking, and time needed to get from parking to the room
  • Greet guests at the door
  • Provide refreshments (no one learns when they are distracted by an empty stomach)
  • Provide nametags to encourage interaction
  • Have guests enter a well-lit room with the Power Point off
  • Consider aesthetics (e.g. using an attractive meeting room, tablecloth on the snack table, flowers, music, art, or posters on the walls)

 Everything you do sets the expectations of the audience and affects their attitude. How they feel will affect how open they are to receiving your information. It is true; the devil is in the details.

© 2010  iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

  1. The venue is important, not only for the attendees but also for any guest speakers. When I’m a guest speaker I always ask in advance what kind of room we will be in, what the seating arrangement will be, whether the attendees will expect to ask questions during my presentation and whether they will be eating while I speak. Advance planning makes a presentation go smoothly. Never mislead your speakers. On one occasion I was assured I would be speaking in the front of a well lighted banquet room. Upon arrival I was in a bar, the attendees were lined up on either side of tables that had been pushed together to make about a 30 foot long very narrow table, and the lighting was so low it was difficult to read my notes. The speakers were expected to speak from the head of the table and as a consequence could only really “engage” the first 5 or 6 people on either side of the table. Everyone else was lost in the dimness of the room and behind the people between us.

    • You are a wise woman Lauren, to be asking these questions. Most speakers just “show up” and are surprised.

      You can easily be thrown off balance by a poor venue or seating arrangement. The audience will sense your discomfort and assume you are unsure on what you are saying. Thus your credibility can easily be hurt even though your are just reacting to being thrown a curve ball at the last minute.

      The good thing about the situation you described is at least there was a tap nearby to wet your whistle! (kidding!)

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