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As we wrap up the chapter on delivery, let's focus on one thing we often neglect, the behind-the-scenes tasks of setting up and tearing down. In this video, we'll discuss the following: setting the stage, greeting the audience, handouts and signing-in, positioning you and your laptop, and closing down. Before you get started, find out when the audience will be arriving. You should be ready to greet the audience by that time, which means no more fiddling around with your laptop or handouts. If you're not ready yet, have someone keep them out of the room or take yourself into another room to prepare.
In other words, don't let the audience watch you set up. Now let's set the stage. Pretend you're an attendee walking into the room. Look around. What do you see? You'll want to remove any clutter and distractions and do some light housekeeping. Decide where everything will go: you, your laptop, and possibly the screen. Set up your banner, literature, business cards, and handouts. You'll want your laptop positioned facing you so that you can face the audience while keeping your slides in view.
Ideally, you'll be using a remote control for the laptop, but you'll still want to see the screen easily. With your laptop connected to the projector, you're almost set. Make sure your presentation is loaded full-screen and at the first slide. Remember that the first slide should let your audience know that they're in the right place, perhaps with the title of your presentation, your name, or company logo. It should reinforce the message that they're about to hear. Now we're ready to greet the audience. As soon as they arrive, start introducing yourself and shaking hands.
Make sure that they're comfortable and offer them a front row seat. Remember that small displays will be difficult for audience members in the back to see. If your screen is small, you'll want to encourage the audience to sit closer. How do you do this? One way is to remove chairs from the back of the room. Otherwise, politely ask your audience to come forward. Most people will if you give them a nudge. Be humble and approachable and try and get to know them a little before you begin. If you have handouts, you need to consider when the best time would be for the audience to receive them.
Many people like to take notes on their handouts, but at the same time you don't want people shuffling paper or being distracted. Consider giving your audience a handout that has the most important points they need to know with plenty of room for them to write. You might select just some of your slides and print them using the handout layout. Then after the presentation is finished, give them the full handout with all the data. Now if you're doing sign-in sheets, I recommend you save them until the end. There's always that one person who walks in late. They're already causing a disruption, so don't make it worse by having them sign in.
You can pass around the sign-in sheet during the start of your Q&A period. You're going to want to stand the entire time. Standing will give you more energy as you present. It will help make your voice carry, make it easier for others to see you, and keep your audience focused. Ideally, you'll want to be standing wherever the majority of the audience can comfortably see you, with the screen behind you, just off-center. This won't be possible in all rooms, but do what you can to make this happen. Make sure there's plenty of room for you to walk about, nothing to bump into or trip you up.
You want to be able wander about the room, not just in front of the audience, but everywhere, including through and behind them. In a word, you'll want to be free. When it's time to start, dim the lights a little bit so the screen is easy to see, straighten up your clothes, check your hair, and begin the show. When you're done speaking, don't forget to display your final slide. It should include your name, title, and contact information. You might also include a message that summarizes everything one more time, a final tagline or a photo.
Tell your audience that you'll be sticking around for any other questions that come up. Thank them for attending and wish them a great day. If people are lingering, you can start to tidy up a bit and collect your materials. Try not to disassemble the laptop, projector, or screen until everyone is gone. The key here is to make your audience feel comfortable that you're not rushing them. They're probably talking about your presentation, so why distract them? Not only that, but you can add a few years to the life of your projector's bulb if you let it power down completely before you unplug it.
There's a fan inside that stays running for a few minutes when you turn the projector off. Let it cool things down before you yank the power. If you can, get a helper to take care of most of the stuff for you. It would give you more time to interact with the audience before and after your presentation. And be sure to thank them at the end of your talk. Setting up and tearing down may seem like an awful lot to think about when making a presentation, but before long it becomes second nature.
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