June 30, 2008

Who's the boss? You are!



I just got back from a fabulous quickie trip to San Diego where I delivered a training at a gorgeous resort to a group of fun and willing participants (welcome, ECGMC blog visitors!).

It's always satisfying to work with an organization that's on the ball, organized, well-prepared and cares enough about their own people to make sure everything is in place for them to get the most out of a training or conference.

What can you do to help the process along and make sure that you're able to do your part in giving the most value to the group you're serving?

Survey the organization

I have two questionnaires: one is about the company in general and how my presentation fits into the overall theme of the conference or training, and the other is a questionnaire for individuals who will be attending my workshop, to find out what their public speaking needs are.

These two questionnaires form the bulk of information I receive about a speaking engagement. I also speak in person with the organizer, and some speakers will contact individuals by phone or e-mail to get more personalized information.

Note: my questionnaires used to be documents that I e-mailed out, but they are now electronic (I use SurveyMonkey.com) to make it easier for participants to complete them and for me to analyze them prior to the workshop.

If I'm speaking to a beginner-level crowd, I don't want to be giving them advanced information. If the group doesn't express a lot of fear of public speaking, I don't want to spend a lot of time on that issue. A simple questionnaire gets me at least part of the way to knowing my audience.

Be clear about your needs

If you need a microphone, say so. If you need the room set up a particular way, say so. If you need the organization to make copies of your handouts, say so. Guess what: things don't happen unless you ask.

Some of my clients fear being perceived as "pushy" if they ask for a specific room setup or equipment. They feel that they're imposing upon the organizer by asking for what they want. What they're forgetting is that it's not for them; it's for the audience.

We set up the room a certain way, use a microphone, bring handouts or provide certain activities so the audience learns better and retains the information that is shared. That's all. It's not about being a prima donna. It's about serving your audience. So ask away!

Stay in touch


I was lucky to be working with a group whose contact person was vigilant about making sure everything was taken care of well in advance. But this is not always the case; in fact, I would say it's rarely the case.

Once you've made your requests and set your standards for the presentation, it's up to you to follow up and ensure that things are happening as you requested. You have to play organizer as well as speaker or trainer if you want to be sure that i's are dotted and t's are crossed.

In this case, the organizer had given me contact information for the conference director at the resort, so I called him the day before my presentation to confirm that everything was arranged and that I could stop in to see the room where I would be speaking.

Check your room as soon as you can

I discovered that I would be able to see my room the day before the workshop, but that it wouldn't actually be set to my specifications until late that night. I had already planned on peeking in on my way to breakfast and then setting up at least a half hour in advance, so I made sure to be there early the next day (the workshop was at 8 am, so there wasn't a lot of wiggle room in the morning).

When I peeked in the morning of the workshop, the audio-visual crew happened to be there hooking up the equipment and the rest of the room was exactly as I had requested, so I was able to start setting up right away. Part of my setup wasn't complete and they took care of that quickly.

You're the boss. Take charge of your event.

Arrangements for your speaking engagement will not always go this smoothly. We don't always get the gigs and clients we dream about! But keeping the process moving forward will ensure that you're doing your part in making the engagement as successful as possible.

Don't let your audience down. Be there for them from the minute you're engaged to speak!

For some guidelines to follow for your next presentation, you can download my Presentation Readiness Checklist and Presentation Tools Checklist on my Resources page.

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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

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