In my last post I shared a few things that commonly happen to presenters and facilitators that I believe are worthy of fitting under the category of Murphy’s Law. You know Murphy’s Law: anything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong. Well, since I titled that post Part I, I felt compelled to produce Part II. And of course there are plenty of items to add. As I stated before, I hope my fellow presenters and facilitators find this helpful.
1. The day you decide to ditch the paper and show how technologically savvy you are by presenting from your tablet or smartphone, the range of the wi-fi in the hotel conference center will end at the door to your session. Or better yet, you’ll have wi-fi, but as soon as you stand to speak from your tablet that little icon that goes in circles, will have a stare down with you. So you better memorize your presentation, carry a personal wi-fi hotspot as a back up, or better yet keep a hard copy paper back up. Yes paper can still serve a purpose.
2. Have you ever stood in front of a room and felt like you were all alone? One minute can seem like an hour. When the audience and presenter are actively engaged time flies. When the audience and presenter are disconnected, time stands still. A presentation without the participation of the people is a selfish act on behalf of the presenter. Arrive early and chat/connect with members of the audience. This simple act can form a bond that connects you during your presentation.
3. Can you tell the difference between the unengaged and the thoughtful audience member? The person sitting there stoically that appears to not care, isn’t against you. More often than not, they’re taking in more than anyone else in the room. Wait till they talk to you after the session – you’ll be surprised at how much they absorbed. Don’t get sidetrack by how they “look”. People receive and digest information in different ways. Some will respond, some will shake their heads, some will write, some will tweet, and some will just sit, listen and receive. Just make sure you keep your “game face” on.
4. How do you define thick? How thick is thick? Apparently “thick” is an ambiguous term. You did ask for thick markers, but they provided fine point sharpies for your flip charts. Who can read that from the back of the room? Heck, who can read it from the front of the room. I bring a pack of thick markers with me. This is perhaps one of my biggest communication challenges – I just can’t get everyone to understand what “Thick” means. Maybe I should start sending a photo.
5. No one knows how a room should be set up like a facilitator, presenter or experienced event coordinator. Just because a room can fit 75 people that doesn’t mean they can all sit comfortably. Remember it’s not just the fit, it’s how they sit. Also it’s hard to have small group discussions if there’s no room for small groups to gather. Ask for photos of the room if it’s out of town. If it’s in town go visit the site and do a walk through. Clearly define the size/types of tables and configuration – draw pictures if necessary.
6. You’ll have some of your greatest thoughts and revelations while you’re speaking. You’ll say things for the first time that you’ll have a hard time remembering afterwards. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like saying to the audience, “Excuse me folks, what I just said was pretty good and I’ve never said it that way before. Let me jot that down and I’ll get right back with you.” Of course I don’t do that, but what do I do: I record my sessions and during breaks or exercises I jot down notes on my pad that I keep near.
Well there you have it! A few more of my challenging experiences presenting to large groups of people! If you have any similar stories, please share them!
My name is Charles Weathers. And I’m the founder of the Weathers Group. If you’re in need of a facilitator, speaker, or presenter please give us a call. We promise, we’ve learned our lessons! You WON’T have to worry about any of the aforementioned challenges!