Murphy's Law states: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." This is especially true and especially painful when there is an audience involved.



This blog was active from April, 2008 to July 2012.
It is no longer being updated. It will continue to be maintained for reference purposes.

Nicholas Bate: Get there early

Nicholas Bate is, among other things, a successful author and business consultant.  A recent post on his blog not only offered a useful and refreshingly pragmatic pre-meeting checklist, it also dovetailed nicely with a recent post of my own. Nicolas and I both strongly feel that it’s crucial to arrive at the presentation venue early enough to make sure every part of the environment you are about to preform in is in an optimal state. If the first time you step into the meeting room is two minutes before you step up to the lectern, you better be prepared for any number of things to go wrong. The story Nicholas was kind enough to share illustrates how showing up the day before made it possible to get a little extra sleep:

As you will know from Lee’s posts if there is one thing which enhances your chances of a great presentation, it’s preparation. And that’s certainly something I am committed to when I am delivering a work-shop or key-note. The preparation has two parts, ideally. Part 1: a quick ‘recce’ of the room the previous day/evening just to identify any surprises/challenges and get those resolved. Part 2 is getting into the room prior to the delegates to set up and get all perfect for them. This ritual has become tried and tested for me and hasn’t let me down, identifying many problems with enough time for them to be resolved.

Several years ago I was doing a lot of international travel and had just flown back from Boston, USA to the UK (my home). Poor diary management on my part meant I arrived back in the UK the day before my next work-shop. I arrived late at the location, gave the room a once-over and with the hotel staff sorted a lot of issues. Then went to bed exhausted, knowing we started at 0900. I awoke at 0840 having slept through two alarms! I jumped up, showered and grabbed my materials, ran down the corridor and arrived in the room at 0855. We started on time at 0900. The work-shop went brilliantly.

The lessons?

  1. The prior-day check up saved my skin. It’s worth doing if you can.
  2. Jet-lag can cause extreme exhaustion: set plenty of alarms!
  3. Manage your diary to avoid back-to-back big events: your mind/body needs some down-time.
  4. BUT here’s the real lesson. I had no time to do my normal prep on that morning, run through my notes etc., but it went went really well, anyway-which was a real lesson to me that we can over-prepare. That is, if we basically know our stuff (which we should do, of course!) a ‘flow’ state can be reached where by people get an ‘even better’ experience: more real, more connected. Athletes call this being ‘in the zone’ of course.

Something to think about!
Thanks to Lee for inviting me to post

I usually make a point of trying to take a some time to chat with the people who work for the venue when I’m on site. I like to hear their stories about the unusual things they’ve seen happen in the meeting rooms. It never ceases to amaze me how often their stories are about speakers that come bustling into the meeting room minutes before they are scheduled to go on (which I guess means it actually isn’t all that unusual). They hand off their slides to the AV crew on a thumb drive hoping against hope that they will project correctly. They stop for a second so the sound guy can slap on a lavalier (sound check, who has time for a sound check?). They have no time to familiarize themselves with the remote control, the stage, the podium. At this point it’s far too late to change or fix anything that might detract from the audience’s experience. This is the situation Nicholas would have inadvertently been in if he hadn’t taken time to check things out the night before.

Your turn:

Has there ever been a time that you wished there was more time devoted to on-site, pre-presentation preparation? Were you ever really, really glad you had a chance to spend extra preparing? Please share you experiences in a comment to this post.

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