Preparing for a speech or workshop is important and as speakers we spend much time formulating our outline and crafting our message.
I want to share 5 tips with you to help you just before you go on stage. There is much to do once you arrive at the venue and I have experienced this many times – I get ready to speak, and in the last moment things happen. Often, they’re not big things, but they add stress to my day, often unnecessarily.
1. CHECK YOUR AV SETUP
Make sure everything is set up and works well including the visual setup and the sound.
If you’re using a slide presentation, make sure your projector is displaying bright enough on the screen. I remember once presenting in a beautiful church with high windows and everything looked great until a few minutes before I was to go on stage to speak. That’s when the sun had moved just enough to shine through the gorgeous colourful stain glass windows and make my screen look more like a rainbow than a clean PowerPoint presentation.
2. STAND ON STAGE BEFORE YOUR AUDIENCE COMES IN
It’s a good idea to check out the stage before your audience comes into the room because it gives you a chance to move around and get a feel for the space you have to work with. If it’s a raised stage, it’ll also allow you to familiarize yourself with the edges of the stage to ensure you don’t accidentally fall off when you speak (don’t laugh, it happens more than you think!).
I like to quietly stand on stage by myself for a moment before anyone comes in – it gives me a chance to get the “vibe” of the room and feel comfortable in my space.
3. CHECK ON YOUR HANDOUTS
Figure out if you are putting out your handouts before or during your presentation. If you decide to put them out ahead of time, you could lay them out on the chairs or tables; or you could have a helper hand them out as your audience comes into your room. If you want to hand them out during your presentation, it will be of advantage to have a helper (especially if it’s a larger audience). Think about the logistics of your handouts – will your audience need to write anything; in this case they will need pens and if they don’t sit at tables they can’t write on a single sheet of paper as it’s too thin.
When I create handouts I also like to think how my audience can use the handout after my presentation. A note section, a checklist or a planning tool can be a valuable addition to extend the life-cycle of the handout.
4. CHECK THROUGH YOUR NOTES AND POWERPOINT SLIDES
Have a look through you speaking notes – are there any rough spots, is there an additional story to add, is there any content that’s too much? Run through your PowerPoint slides – are all the transitions working the way you want to, are you familiar with the controls on your remote and can you move through the room without having to run through your projector viewing path?
5. CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF – BRING YOUR ENERGY UP, AND NERVES DOWN
Your audience will pick up on your energy! What do you need to do before you get on stage to raise your energy? I recently saw a documentary about Tony Robbins and they showed him taking a few jumps on a portable trampoline just before going on stage. This stood out to me – he developed a ritual to raise his energy that works for him. Now, I’m not suggesting you just copy that, but I want to encourage you to find your own ritual.
If you are nervous, remember that your audience wants you to succeed. Many people are nervous before going up on stage… me too! Now, I have been speaking for many years and I have learned how to make these butterflies in my stomach “fly in formation”, but I still feel nervousness. Over the years I have learned that I don’t do well eating much before I speak, so this is important for me to keep in mind especially when I am the “after-meal” speaker at a lunch or dinner event. But I also know I’ll be starving in the moment when I get off stage when the adrenaline wears off… that’s why I always have someone save me the dessert plate 😉
The moment you get on stage, let go of everything! You have prepared the best you can, now it’s time to be in the moment and connect with your audience.
I believe in you!
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