I’m giving a keynote talk this afternoon in Runnymede where, just over 800 years ago, a dispute over tax gave rise to a fundamental rethink of democracy and how we’re governed - doesn’t that sound contemporary?!
Anyway, you might be interested in what I, as a professional presenter, do on the actual day of a presentation.
I hope I don’t need to say that anything important should already be done - slides, rehearsal, printing of handouts … the day of a presentation is too stressful to be dealing with this, make sure anything that can be ready before ‘the big day’ is.
Here are the ‘non-negotiables’:
1. Arrive early. This is the single biggest ‘skill’ a speaker can have! Almost any problem in presenting can be solved with 30 minutes to spare.
I’ll meet my client (they need to know I’m there!) and check that if there are any changes I need to know about.
2. I’ll check my notes and refresh my memory about the audience - who are they? What do they need? What are they focused on?
3. I’ll look over the agenda, making sure I know how my message fits in with the rest of the event.
4. Get to know the space. In a break, I’ll walk around the stage (if there is one!) to familiarise myself with it as well as spotting any problems such as squeaky floorboards or projector light hitting my head! I’ll also sit in a few different seats in the audience space so I can get to know what it’s like looking at the stage from different parts of the room.
5. Introduce myself to the AV team - always make friends with these amazing people, they work so hard for often little acknowledgement, and they’ll help you out of almost any crisis! I’ll check my slides are running well and do a sound check on the microphone too.
6. During the event itself, I like to sit at the back of the room and soak up the atmosphere a bit. I’ll be looking at the audience and seeing how they react to the event - are they engaged? Do they need waking up? Calming down? Basically what do I need to bring to my presentation which makes the experience even better for them?
7. In the break before my keynote, I make sure that everything I need is on the stage - a copy of my notes, some water, a copy of my book (international bestselling award-winning