Think about the time invested in preparing a great speech: research, organization, practice, preparing a slide presentation, etc. Now, imagine neglecting the last preparation step by not allowing time to prepare the facility when you’ll give your speech.

Your presentation is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. You blast into the room —with the audience already there— at 9:58 a.m. and proceed to set up your notes and equipment.

Ten minutes later, you’re fiddling with cables trying to connect the projector to you laptop. You haven’t booted up yet. It’s powered by Windows, so we know we have another ten-minute wait while it starts.

By this point, you’ve pretty much lost your audience.

Make sure that you spend enough time in the presentation room before your speech begins. Don’t let unforeseen circumstances put a damper on your speech. Get the details of the location where you will deliver your speech ahead of time.

Before leaving
  1. Make sure you have all the material you need: notes, files, handouts, USB stick, projector, etc.
  2. Double check your equipment. Make sure it’s working.
  3. Bring extra hardware as practical. Have two memory sticks, with the presentation file. Throw in an extension cord and extra connector cables for your tech. hardware.
  4. Make sure you have directions to your location, so you can get there early.
At the location
  1. Arrive early. At minimum, you need time to get your material ready. Better yet, be there early enough to set up and then greet audience members as they arrive. You can help build rapport with the audience by spending a few minutes chatting with them.
  2. Check the set-up. Can everybody see the speaker and presentation clearly? If possible, arrange the chairs and tables in a configuration that works for you.
  3. Make sure that the room is comfortable. Is it too hot or cold? Can you adjust the temperature?
  4. Set-up any electronic equipment you are using and test it to make sure it’s working properly and can be seen easily.
  5. Make sure the cables and cords are run in a safe manner. A roll of masking tape is helpful for keeping the cable out of the path of audience members.
  6. If the venue is providing the equipment, take a few minutes to make sure you know how to operate it.
  7. Test the microphone and sound system, standing where you’ll be using them.

Preparation at every stage of the process leads to a successful speech or presentation.