Gather as much information as you can about the venue and schedule ahead of time.
Floor plan and seating:
- Chairs: How is the room set-up? Theater style, Classroom style, U-shape
- Tables: What type of tables? Round, Rectangular, Individual desks
- Stage: Elevated or same level as audience?
- Lighting: Will there be a fixed spotlight? If there is a fixed spotlight, mark any pockets of darkness on the stage so you can avoid them.
- Obstructions: Will there be a podium or lectern? If you don’t need the podium to hold your notes, ask to remove it—it’s a visual barrier that puts distance between you and your audience.
Will food be provided? Are you presenting near mealtime? Make sure to plan enough sound amplification to be heard over the sounds of forks and knives, or plan to begin only after the food service crew has cleared plates. If not, build in time for people—including you—to grab a bite. Or if you’re presenting within your organization, bring some snacks. A hungry audience is an unhappy audience.
Show Flow: Questions to consider
- Will you be introduced? If not, find out if you need to prepare your own introduction.
- Will anybody speak before or after you? If so, find out who they are and what messages will they present. If your presentation comes late in a long line of speakers, plan a shorter talk as not to overwhelm an already tired audience.