You have edited and re-edited your speech. You have spent hours rehearsing the speech over and over. All you have to do now is show up and deliver a grand speech. Or have you forgotten something?
How will the height of the stage affect your presentation? How are the room acoustics? Will you be using a wireless microphone, or one attached to the podium?
The actual set up of the venue can have a huge impact on your presentation. Just a few weeks ago, I was speaking at a funeral. The funeral was held at a church I use to attend, so, I felt confident I was familiar with the setting. As I walked up to the platform for the initial greeting, I did not pay attention to the fact that the lights were dimmed a bit. I gave my remarks, and looked down at my Bible to read a couple of verses. The next thing that went through my mind was, “Gee it sure is dark in here,” as my eyes struggled to focus in the dim light. After a slight pause, my eyes did focus and I was able to proceed.
It turned out to not be a big deal, but it reminded me of an important part of public speaking. One I overlooked that day. Whenever possible take time to visit the venue prior to your speech.
Make plans to arrive early, and if possible arrange for someone familiar with the facility to meet with you. Here are just a few of the things to review:
- What is the size and shape of the stage? Be sure and checkout where you will enter the stage once you are introduced.
- How will the lights be set up? If you will be using notes, can you see them with the lights on the setting that will be used during the meeting? Are there parts of the stage that are not lit well? Talk to the lighting tech if you need any adjustments made.
- If you will be using a microphone, ask to see it, and try it out. If it is wireless, and you move around when you speak, be sure and test the microphone from different areas of the stage. Check for feedback and how it will sound to you. Be sure you are familiar with turning the microphone off and on. There is nothing like someone handing you a microphone that is not turned on, “Can you hear me now?” Talk with the sound tech if you have any questions or need to make any adjustments.
- If it is a smaller venue, and you will not be using a microphone, stand in the back and have someone else speak from the front so you can get an idea of how loud you will need to speak to reach the back row.
- If you will be using a presentation, be sure and test your slides to make sure they show up correctly, and you will be able to easily transition from one slide to the next. Do the same thing if you will be showing a video.
Of course you cannot prepare for every little thing that might affect your speech, but you and your audience will benefit if you arrive a little early and take some time to familiarize yourself with the venue. When the time comes for you to take the stage, you can do it feeling confident that there should be no surprises from the venue. (At least very few)