Asking the Right Questions
Imagine this scenario:
You have agreed to make a presentation at a staff meeting. You take time to outline your talk, prepare your handouts, and create effective visual aids. You practice. You confidently walk into the room wearing jeans and a button-down shirt expecting to see a table with 6-8 people. As you enter the room though, you find there are close to 80 people sitting in an auditorium. They are dressed in business attire. There is a lectern on the podium with a microphone and a large screen behind. The paradigm of your presentation suddenly changed. It requires different preparations, more handouts, and an entirely different presentation strategy. In an instant, you go from feeling confident and prepared to scared.
The very first part of preparing for a presentation is to define the parameters.
Think about how the situation described above could have been different if the following questions were asked:
- How many people will I be addressing?
- How will the room be set up?
- Who will be in the audience and what is their background?
- What do you hope to accomplish by having me present to your group?
- Is the audience a group of strangers or do they know each other?
- What other speakers are on the agenda and when will I speak in relation to them?
- What type of AV equipment and software do you have?
- Will there be technical assistance available?
- What is the appropriate dress for this occasion?
Some additional questions that may be of help include:
- Will alcohol be served? (This is to gauge the audience, not for you to drink!)
- What is an emergency number I can call the day of the talk in case I have a problem?
Don’t assume you understand the parameters of a presentation. Make sure you ask the right questions. Find out as much about the situation as possible before you begin preparing. The more you know about what to expect, the better prepared you will be. Your confidence and credibility will soar.
© 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. More tips can be found at http://www.ethanrotman.wordpress.com.