So you’ve hired a professional speaker. Now what?
As you’re preparing to share the enthusiasm and energy of a live presentation, there are several “little things” you can do that make a BIG difference.
Of all the “little things” that matter in a large group presentation, none is more important than the quality of the sound. To maximize the benefits of the presentation, it makes good sense to use the best sound system your organization has to offer.
The challenge is to be able to hear well. Frequently, the best sound system is not native to the room. Older auditoriums often have older speakers that feature a distracting and fatiguing “hum.” Hotel ballrooms have sound systems that are intended to deliver quiet elevator music while people eat their lunch. Gymnasiums often feature PA’s that are designed to announce the score, not move the audience.
The solution may well be to import a sound system. Many times, a band director, chorus instructor, or theater advisor will have a mobile system they would be willing to share given enough advance notice. Failing that, consider contacting a local DJ. Today’s DJ’s have great equipment and most jump at an opportunity to advertise their services.
Patrick will always try to be present during a soundcheck. Be sure to have a fresh battery in the microphone and a backup battery or even a backup microphone ready to go just in case.
Patrick prefers a handheld cordless microphone.
Sight & Seating
One-person shows are as visual as they are auditory. Everyone must be able to see the presenter. A raised platform or a chorus riser is usually sufficient. Patrick likes to be as close to the audience as possible without sacrificing sight lines.
One of the subtle things you can do to set the right tone is to seat people so that they feel like they are part of a “full house.” Ask your staff to begin seating people from the front of the room. Ask the audience to fill in each available seat as they go.
In gymnasium settings, participatory and interactive presentations are most effective when the audience faces the presenter (sitting on one side of the gym) and not each other. Many schools have been reluctant to ask their overflow students to sit on the floor, but have been impressed with the positive results of this seating. Involved students do not mind spending the 45 minutes on the floor because it is easier for them to become involved. If you cannot seat your audience on one side of the gym, consider adding another session.
If you are arranging chairs in a hotel ballroom or conference room, it’s easier for a speaker to work from right to left versus front to back. Consider a wider arrangement of chairs set up “theater style.”
Experience shows that the first and last periods of the day are usually less than ideal for a large group assembly. If you have the option, consider scheduling the assemblies later in the morning or in the early afternoon. Be sure to provide Patrick the starting and ending times for his or her presentation in the Pre-Program Questionnaire.
If you are scheduling multiple assemblies, it is usually easier on Patrick if they are scheduled close together. It allows him to maximize the benefits of the body’s adrenaline.
Introduction & Conclusion
Be sure to have someone ready to quickly focus and quiet the audience. Have them introduce Patrick and “hand it over” to him. At the conclusion of Patrick’s presentation, have someone ready to continue on with the program or dismiss the group.
*Adapted with permission from original article by Mike Smith and Bob Tryanski