5 Tech Tips
You know your content cold, your slides are beautiful. You even did a rehearsal in your hotel room. But the environment you will present in is unfamiliar, even if it is a “typical” setup (every stage and AV package is different). You want to get to know it. Request a technical rehearsal, and do these 5 Things:
1. Meet the Crew
The people dressed in black at the back of the room are there to make you look and sound good. Of particular importance is the “show caller” or “stage manager” who controls the cues that determine if your video will play or your microphone is turned on at the right time. Be polite, respectful and engaging, and you will benefit from their untold experience and expertise.
2. Get a Sound Check
On a bigger show, you have two audio engineers: the “A1” who controls the audio board and the “A2” who puts your microphone on. If you let them do their jobs, they will ensure your mic is placed in the right place, match the sound levels based on your voice, and ensure you are speaking loudly enough for the mic to work. Note: dangly earrings are a nightmare for headset mics, and scarves are brutal for lapel mics. Handhelds must stay near your mouth, and podium mics are “directional” so you need to point your mouth toward them as you speak. If you get a proper sound check, all of this will be sorted out.
3. Find the Light
Are you finding the light a little blinding? That’s good – it means your audience can see you. Do you prefer to step out of the light, so it isn’t so uncomfortable on your retinas? That’s bad – it means you have moved to the unlit part of the stage and look rather grey. Ask the stage manager to mark the “sweet spot” with a piece of tape, and whatever you do, don’t stand in the way of the projector!
4. Try the Clicker
Each one is slightly different. What is the response time? How firmly do you need to press? Does the backward button actually work? Does it have seven other buttons that can cause confusion? Are you plugged directly into the laptop, or is a technician advancing the slides? Don’t figure it out in front of your audience!
5. Ask for Water
And, drink it! A great technique is to take a sip before saying anything when you arrive on stage. If you play a video, it is another opportune time to have a drink (in fact, if you are prone to a dry mouth, it is a great reason to have a video in the first place!). Another natural moment is when you ask for questions: cover the awkward silence of waiting for the first question by strolling over to the podium and taking your glass in hand.
If you take the extra time to do these five things, I guarantee you will feel even more prepared and confident when it comes time to present! And remember: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin