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Properly Preparing Your Presenters

Presenter's Microphones

This blog entry is cross-posted from my personal blog site.

When you run a user group, or any other event that has one or more people presenting topical information to others, you know that your presenter is coming prepared with some great information.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t have asked them to come, right?

At the very least, your speaker is knowledgeable in a specific area, has real-world expertise, is able to communicate to others, and will come prepared with a slide deck, or other visual presentation tools. 

However, that’s only half of the battle.  Those are simply the things that we as recruiters or leaders should expect and maybe event take for granted in terms of setting these events up.  However, it wouldn’t hurt to know those things so you can prepare your venue accordingly.  Sometimes, your presenters require a little extra knowledge or preparation.  A prime example might be a sound system or room layout.  Is there a lectern or a table?  There are many questions.

That’s the point!  While you as the meeting or event coordinator need to worry about all of the venue minutia, you also need to provide some details and information to your presenters.  The quality of the presentation depends on it.

Your designated speakers need to have a set number of expectations and background information.  Otherwise, they are walking into the unknown.  Yikes!  If you’re anything like the other 99% of the humans on the planet, the unknown is a scary thing. Think about the millions of people terrified of things like ghosts – when we still have literally no idea if they even exist!  They simply don’t know what to expect, so human nature sets in.  We let fear seep in.

At the very least, if you’re doing your job, your presenters should know:

  • What time is the meeting?
  • What time do I speak?
  • How long do I have?
  • What is the background of the attendees?
  • How many people will be there?
  • Are there any projector concerns? (resolution, connectivity, etc.)
  • Will I have wireless internet access?
  • What is the layout of the room?
  • Will I need sound support?

There are many other potential questions, but you should have a template-driven e-mail laying out the answers to these kind of questions once you have a speaker ready to commit to your event.

You might be asking yourself, “Why?”  You could be asking that question for any number of reasons.  First and foremost, speakers are people just like you.  Even the most prominent and well-known speakers like John Chambers (CEO of Cisco) are not 100% confident when they first stand in front of their audience.  Sure, they look like it, and you presenter hopefully will look that way too – but the fact is, that look is only because they are well-prepared.  This is what you have to facilitate.

Never assume that the speaker will look all of that information up on their own.  You should assume the opposite.  Every question that you answer ahead of time will simply give your presenter that additional edge that they need to put on a thrilling presentation.  Ask any speaker that you know.  It’s true.  If they don’t need to sit there and wonder the answers to those questions, or go digging around for them, they can focus on making you look like a rock star for bringing in such a top-notch presentation!


Out of anything I have ever blogged about, this is probably the one area where I wish I had paid more attention to.  With the exception of the Day of DotNetNuke event that I created, I will be the first to admit that I have traditionally sucked at making this happen.  Thankfully, I have been lucky enough to recruit some outstanding speakers that were able to answer those questions on their own.


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