June 24, 2008

Be a host, not a guest

I always suggest getting to know the audience and the venue in advance as part of our research and preparation. Checking out the venue in advance is frequently overlooked by beginning speakers, and here's why it shouldn't be.

Whether it's the day before or a half hour before your presentation, visiting the room where you'll be speaking accomplishes one important thing: Making the room your own.

Yes, you will also discover the layout of seating and tables, the equipment and sound features, the lighting, and other aspects of the room that you can then arrange or rearrange to your liking. Viewing the room in advance also reduces the general anxiety of facing the unknown.

But making the room your own is also an important part of preparation.

When I feel like it's "my" room, I feel more like a host than a guest. I feel more welcoming to the audience. I want to greet them and welcome them to my space. I even feel more nurturing toward them, like I want to care for them the best I can while they're in my room.

If you haven't visited your room, not only are you walking in cold in terms of what the room looks and feels like, you're also putting yourself in the position of a guest rather than a host.

It's hard to be welcoming to your audience when you haven't been welcomed yourself.

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

Hey again,

As I read this post, I thought of one time friend who told me a horror story about going into a room she hadn't been in before and finding a live iguana that climbed things while she spoke!

If by chance I can't scope out a room before I'm supposed to be there, I'll not only look around as I walk in, but I'll also pay attention to how my footsteps sound as I walk. The sound can help indicate dead spots in the room, along with (most importantly) the sweet spot where I'll sound the best to the most people.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Hopefully the sweet spot is not in some obscure corner of the room. :-)

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