Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Speaking Season - 23 to 28 of 107

This weekend was packed with 6 more presentations - 3 more at Concordia University, 3 at Chisago Lakes High School. The ebb and flow of giving presentations in this format is interesting to observe from the inside, even as I attempt to control the ebb and flow, with varying results.

1. Time of Day - 10 am never seems to be my best - its never horrible, but never as good as later on. I know that I course correct throughout the day, revising what I may say at 12 and 2, sometimes as late as 4 or 5 (on a Sunday). I always tend to purposefully toss more energy into the last session, both for myself and my audience - helps keep me on my toes and my audience awake, even as there energy wanes in the early or late afternoon.

2. The Audience - at this stage of the game, I can't really control who is coming to my meetings, or how many. The bigger the audience, the better the energy. Small audiences can be okay, but if they spread out throughout a large auditorium, this will sap much of the group dynamic out - that feeling that a lot of people all made the same decision to attend, and are excited - that validates everyone in the room.

3. The A/V People - they are, in the end, just people. They may not turn the lights on or off fast enough, they may not move the sound levels appropriately, even with guidance, and they may not even know how to operate their own equipment properly. I have worked with a wide range of techs this year, from a former STYX and Toto Sound Engineer, to a former Broadcast News Anchor, to a high school student who'd rather be down at the gym and a custodian who's more worried about the mess they'll have to clean up in a few hours than helping me. Be an expert, help them out - if the A/V tech doesn't know how to solve a problem, and you show them a solution, you've done them (and the next person they work with) a service.

4. The Venue - we plan to be in auditoriums and rooms that fit our audiences, but it doesn't always work out, as touched upon in #2. Lighting, access to lighting controls, colors, layout of seating, age of the facility, speaker quality, acoustics, stage vs. floor space, parking lots, distance from parking to venue, accuracy of maps and signage, bathroom access - the list of factors is long and not always in our control. The more of these factors you control, the more focused and 'ready to buy' your audience will be during your presentation.

5. Paperwork - for seminar speakers, we often have a great deal of paperwork to do, from reports of attendees to reports of sales to evaluations of the facilities to uploads of videos of our performances. All of this usually occurs between the hours of 10 pm and 3 am, depending on the volume of work, speed of internet connection, and amount of planning put into each meeting.

This is MY ebb and flow, my experiences, based largely on my experiences in 2010 on the road, as well as working as a speaker on my own over the last several years. What is YOUR ebb & flow? What have YOU discovered in your role as a speaker? Any unique challenges? Please post a comment below, or write a guest blog post - I'll be happy to feature you here. Meanwhile, remember - don't just Speak - Speak & Deliver!

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