Tag Archives: speeches

Go. Do. PRESENTING (Part IV)

In Part I of this post, I talked about some of the practical issues to be aware of when preparing a presentation. In Part II, I offered some ideas on structure, theme, connection, and research. Part III covered building and rehearsing your talk. So now what? Final preparations!

Being prepared lowers your stress level and centers your mind; so I recommend..

The night before: Save your talk to your computer/laptop in Keynote. Save it also as a PDF. It’s not a bad idea to save it in Powerpoint as well. Grab all three of those files and copy them to a thumb drive (along with any custom fonts you may have used in your presentation). Load up your bag with your laptop and thumb drive (don’t forget your laptop’s power supply). Put fresh batteries in your wireless presenter and place it, along with a spare battery, in your bag. It’s also a great idea to carry adapters to VGA and DVI (the most common input for projectors) as well as a 1/8″ stereo audio cable. Finally, make sure you bring a stack of business cards.

Check to make sure you have your client’s name and number in your phone, print directions to the venue (or better yet, program it into an app like Waze) and gather all your gear in one place.

Think about your wardrobe. Dressy? Casual? Consider the client, the attendees, and the venue and choose accordingly. Pay attention to the details as you select what you’ll be wearing, along with all the accessories.  Now get some sleep!

The next day, leave plenty of time for traffic. Use the time in your car to review your talk, mentally; listen to music, or take the opportunity to just be silent.  When you arrive at the venue, meet up with your contact and go through the technical details.

Lecterns: Many people use a lectern as a crutch; something to lean on or hide behind. The more your audience sees of you, the more they will trust you. If at all possible, don’t use a lectern. If you’re participating in a panel discussion, use directors chairs instead of sitting behind a table (obviously, this needs to be requested in advance) as a table acts as barrier between you and your audience.

Microphones: You may have a choice between a lapel mic or a wireless handheld mic. A handheld gives you something to occupy your hands, but a mic in one hand and a wireless presenter in the other can get clunky.  A lapel mic leaves your hands free to gesture. This comes down to whatever you’re most comfortable using. Get wired up and talk for a bit while the audio tech sets a level. Remember that from this point on, you are wearing a microphone that is ON; even if it’s not being fed to the speakers. Be careful about what you say.

Laptop/Keynote: Once your laptop is connected (or your Keynote is loaded onto the venue’s computer), grab your wireless presenter and click through the slides. If you have audio or video built into the Keynote, make sure it works and is at a good level.

If you’re using your own laptop, turn your screensaver off, and exit your email & messaging apps. The last thing you need during your talk is for it to be interrupted by the sound of an email or text arriving.

Just before your talk: Prepare your body by stretching a little, prepare your mouth with a few vocal exercises, use the restroom, and grab a bottle of water to drink during your presentation. Turn off your phone before going onstage (unless you’re using it as your wireless presenter, then silence all apps).

Hit the stage: Once you’re on stage, all of this preparation and rehearsal should pay off in a polished performance. Pace yourself, pay attention to the audience’s responses, and R E L A X.

After the talk: Gather your stuff and thank your host and any of the folks who assisted in making your talk successful. You did it!

go do: PRESENTING (Part I)

DrAngelaLeeDuckworthPhoto_RyanLashTED

I’ve been giving a lot of presentations recently. Some of these are pitches at work; others are talks at various conferences for a variety of audiences. After nearly a decade of talking to groups of people, I thought I’d revisit some of my favorite sources of inspiration to prepare for a recent round of presentations.

First stop was TED. TED is known for Ted Talks, of course. These inspiring, instructive, illuminating presentations set the bar for public speaking long ago and continue to be a major source of inspiration. What I take from these is the appearance of ease with which these presenters conduct themselves. Watching these talks is the antidote to so many of the presentations we’ve all seen: presenters getting lost in their notes, not making eye contact with their audience, and mumbling their way through a plodding slideshow of poorly-prepared content.

I also re-read “Resonate” by Nancy Duarte. She does a wonderful job of talking through each step of presenting; and her advice on “story” is peerless.

But, while crafting my two latest talks, I was asked by a colleague what MY process was. I’ve given that some thought and have decided to cover the answers to that question in a multi-part post; the first of which covers the initial stages.

Chances are, if you’ve been asked to talk, it means you have demonstrated a high level of understanding or mastery of a certain subject, a willingness to share your knowledge, and (hopefully) an engaging way of speaking. Now, you just need to prepare:

Gather logistical information. It’s tempting to want to jump right in and start preparing content. However, I like to get answers to some practical questions first. Getting those out of the way up front leaves my brain free to think more clearly about the talk. Avoiding these questions until the end can create unnecessary stress, right when you need your resources to prepare and rehearse. Answering these questions also gives you a sense of how prepared the client is (and a heads up to get cracking if they can’t answer your questions). Some points to consider:

What day and time is the talk? Where are you speaking? How long are you expected to speak? How many guests are anticipated? Are you speaking before or after others? Will Q&A be expected afterwards? Is this part of a panel?  Who is your contact on the day? Where do you park (and is there validation involved)?  Do they have the proper technology to support the needs of the presentation? Is there a podium? Does it have an attached microphone? Or will you be expected to use a lavalier or hand-held mic? How early should you be there to make sure the technology works correctly? Is this a paid speaking engagement? Can you do your own marketing on social media for the event?

Gather content information. The answers to these questions should assist you in tailoring your content to the specific audience you’ve been asked to address.

Who is the audience? What do they want to know? What is their age-range? Is the audience required to attend or is their presence voluntary? Is there a theme or main idea to which you’re meant to speak? Most importantly, WHY are you speaking? Are you meant to share your story? Present research? Sell an idea? Impart new information? Inspire?

Research your subject. While many people are asked to speak because of their expertise with a particular subject, it’s often necessary to bolster your points with objective or updated research (new polls, recent statistics or developments, etc). I talk a lot about entertainment technology so staying current is important. By not relying on what you think you know, you open yourself up to new learning which will grace your presentation with fresh, relevant information.

In addition to the usual resources (books, published papers, etc), I find talking with knowledgeable colleagues to be valuable. I ask them about the subject and get their perspective on it. Often, their thoughts inform or clarify my own thinking.

In Part II, I’ll discuss preparing your words and visuals, and in Part III, we’ll cover creating your visual presentation and rehearsing. Finally, in part IV, I’ll cover presentation day.