I have been doing a lot of speaking lately. I love meeting new people, sharing my passion, giving them something exciting to take away and helping them learn something new. I’ve spent a lot of time observing other speakers and reading advice from experts like Chris Brogan so that I am prepared and ready to do a wonderful job for you. I want to be a great speaker, I want to draw in my (and your!) audience and make sure they have the kind of transformational experience that will reflect highly on you (my host). What I would love in return, is for you to kindly provide an environment in which I can do just that.
I am not asking you to tolerate me being a diva. I don’t need a dish of m & m’s with the brown ones picked out. A bit of consideration for my comfort and my process are all I need to hit it out of the park for all of us.
1. I need a bottle of water. It’s nice to provide beverages to everyone at an event, please especially make sure to leave at least one bottle of water on the podium for your speaker. Two bottles are even better, especially for presentations that will go over an hour. If you don’t want me to sound like a bullfrog with a 2-pack-a-day habit, please provide me with something to drink.
2. Pronounce my name correctly. I get it- its long, Italian, has lots of vowels. It isn’t polite to assume pronunciation of a name with which you are unfamiliar. Just ask if you don’t know. I get that all the time. No one likes to be introduced to a room full of people by the wrong name.
3. Please don’t interrupt me. I am comfortable with and actually encourage open discussion, comments and questions in my presentations. People want to be interacted with, not talked at. However, if you are the host or event organizer, please resist the temptation to jump in with reminders to repeat a question for the entire audience, or to undescore a particular point. You are COMPLETELY robbing me of any chance to find my flow. I need the opportunity to find my pace, and I have a method for presenting information that allows me to build to a passionate conclusion. Interrupting me 300 times makes it difficult for me to share information and makes my job really difficult. It also makes me want to hurl things at you (maybe that’s why you didn’t leave me any water at the podium?).
4. Last but most, please don’t be a distraction. Some hosts and event organizers spend a lot of time on the stage or at the venue where a presenter will speak when in the planning phase. They become so comfortable with crossing center stage, fiddling with equipment and talking to other people that they keep doing these things during the event and actually seem to forget someone is SPEAKING. During a recent presentation, a host actually walked to the front of the platform and started shuffling through desk drawers looking for pens! It made it tough for me to stay on point and drove the audience to distraction.
So, those are the top 4 things you can do to make an presenter’s job a bit easier and to make he or she feel a bit more welcome. After all, you want them to do the best job possible for you, right? What am I missing? To all you seasoned presenters out there, I ask, what bad habits do hosts have that drive you crazy?