Fear of death.
Fear of cats.
Fear of speaking.
In a study on fears, Americans listed the fear of speaking as the number one thing that made them a “big fraidy cat.” There are a number of reasons people fear presenting – and near the top of the list is being another boring speaker.
So instead of being scared to death to speak, turn that fear and stress into presentations full of life! Whether you call it a seminar, presentation, symposium, break-out session, or workshop – fear no more! You’re about to find out how to turn a mere audience into a group of engaged, excited, and enthusiastic fans! If you can remember the basics of baseball or softball then you’ve got the key to presenting a winning workshop!
Note: For the first part of this article, the Infield, click here.
Note: For the second part of this article, the Outfield, click here.
Step #3 is covered in Fans: it’s the little things that make a Big Difference!
Know Your FANS
Next to knowing your pitch, understanding your audience is the key to turning them into huge fans. Great presenters do their homework to customize their message and understand the needs of their audience. Here are some basic things you want to know about your fans:
—Ethnicity and culture
—Experience with the topic
—Where you present in the program (are you the first session or last?)
—Attitudes and values
—Common ground (what experiences do you share with the audience?)
—Number of participants to expect
Start a DUGOUT
Great presenters are always on the lookout for new material, quotes, news, studies, and stories that can bolster their message. Just as the Dugout in baseball and softball holds the players and equipment during the game, a “Dugout” for a presenter is where you keep your presentation materials. Find a central place to file new materials, old presentation notes, and hot ideas for future workshops.
TRI TIP: PDA’s and digital organizers make great Dugouts. If you own a PDA or digital organizer, then fill it up with stories, quotes, presentation notes, and outlines. Now you’ll be ready to present on a moment’s notice or in the event something happens to the hardcopy of your materials.
Know the STADIUM
The stadium in baseball is where the game is played. The “Stadium” for presenters is the facility and location where you’ll present your workshop magic. Some facilities are better than others — but all of them can work for you as long as do your homework and know your location in advance. Here are some keys to researching your facility:
Know the Set: Ask your contact what the room set will be for your presentation. Common settings include boardroom (table in the middle with chairs surrounding), classroom (rows of tables and chairs), theater (rows of chairs), rounds/banquet (round tables with 8-10 chairs), U-shaped (tables in the shape of a “U” with chairs along the perimeter), etc. All settings present positive and negative potential. The key is to know in advance so you can prepare accordingly.
Size of Session: Knowing the number of fans attending your presentation is a critical factor. It tells you the types of activities you can plan, if there is room for movement, how many copies of handouts to make, the amount of supplies needed, and more. When it comes to audience size, be a Boy Scout – be prepared for anything.
Room Temperature: Get to the workshop early and check the room temperature. Too hot or too cold will play a factor in your presentation. Know how to contact facility officials who can adjust the temperature accordingly. Remember sound and bodies will increase temperature so do not worry if the room seems cold at first — it will warm up!
Location: Get the address so you know where you are going. Be sure to secure your room number in advance or arrive early enough to find your host(s) and locate your room. Scope out the parking situation — especially if you have lots of supplies to transport.
Here’s the key to handouts — USE THEM! Remember, “What you plant is what grows.” If you want people to “get your message,” then you must give them the message you want them to remember. Your handout is the key to creating a more lasting memory.
Fill in The Blank: The best handout for workshops is a fill-in-the-blank style exercise. Create a prompt (example: Making a Million Point #1 _______) for them to write down your key thoughts or points. This style is great because it essentially outlines your message, keeps them active filling in details, and signals when your workshop is almost done because the worksheet is almost filled up.
Paper Fun: Don’t just rest with a boring 8 ½ x 11 white or goldenrod piece of paper with your key points. Simply jazzing up your handout will send a message to participants from the beginning that they are in for something new and different in your session. Change the paper from portrait (up and down) to landscape (left and right). Use an 11 x 17 piece of paper folded in half (creates four 8 ½ x 11 sheets, front and back). Create a special “business card” sized handout with your key points and your contact information so they can reach you later for more. Trim your handout into shapes (circles, triangles, squares) to make them stand out.
Timing: If you use a worksheet style handout, distribute it at the beginning of your workshop. If you have a detailed handout full of raw information, distribute it at the end. This will keep your audience focused on your presentation and happy that you summarized your material for them in a lasting way.