My No. 1 tip on making an effective presentation is very simple: Make sure you show up with plenty of time to prepare. Giving a strong presentation can be difficult. It can be even harder when you show up at the last minute and are forced to speak right away.
Here are several reasons to make sure you show up early.
1) Showing up early enables you to get the lay of the land. If possible, stand where you will be speaking and scan where your audience will be sitting. Standing there will enable you to get more comfortable with how big the audience may be and the distance you are from them. That will help you gauge how loud you must be to be heard by the back row. It will also enable you to get used to any possible distractions – an annoying light in your line of vision, for instance.
This also applies even when you are going to be speaking somewhere on a regular basis, or somewhere you have been before. Get there early to make sure the room is still the same. You never know when things have been re-arranged. Maybe the whiteboard you have used in the past has been moved to another part of the room, or maybe it is missing. Maybe there are some contractors doing some noisy work in the next room — showing up early would enable you to ask them to be quiet, or arrange for them to come another time.
2) Showing up early will make sure you aren’t late, which can kill your effectiveness. Lateness can increase the nervous energy you already are feeling ad distract you from your message. Hurrying in at the last minute may leave you feeling flustered and distracted. That is not the state of mind you should be in for an effective presentation. The flip side to showing up late is that your audience may be annoyed or feel like you don’t respect their time. If so, they would be less likely to be receptive to your message. The worst situation when it comes to being late, of course, is when you are so tardy that you have missed the chance to even do your presentation. That is a killer.
3) Showing up early enables you to set up and test any equipment you need for the presentation. Do not rely on someone else to do it. It’s your show. And if the equipment doesn’t work, it’s egg on your face. When I used to present public speaking workshops in New York State with a partner, we each brought a laptop with all the information and presentations on it. Just in case one of the computers had an issue (It as also insurance in case one of us was caught in traffic or was otherwise late.)
In my next post I will list more reasons you should always show up early for presentations. But if you want more information now, please add your name to my mailing list to get a free copy of my cheat sheet: Seven Reasons You Should Show Up Early.