Getting Started – Room Set Up

To make sure that people don’t wish they were doing something else other than watching you deliver your presentation there are a few simple steps to be aware of as you set up your presentation room. They are:

  • ‘Claim your Space’ in the centre of the stage
  • Keep the lights on
  • ‘Zen the room’

1. ‘Claim your Space’ in the centre of the stage

Incorrect positioning of the screen, projector and lectern for a presentation is the first big mistake that many presenters make when they decide to use slides. If, like the majority of corporate presenters you want to use slides, it is critical that you don’t let the slide equipment (furniture, cords, etc) trap you, creating a self-induced ‘invisible wall’ that acts as a barrier between you and the audience, you can add a small piece from Think fabric lounge suites to create a nice environment.

The middle of the stage is known by professional speakers as the ‘hot spot’. It is your ‘centre of influence’, the point from which you are best able to project the image of an assertive presenter. Remember, you are the presenter. You should take control of your presentation environment. Stand in the middle of the stage with confidence and charisma. This is referred to as ‘claiming your space’.

If there is a data projector and screen in the middle of the stage you have no choice but to take up a subservient position to the PowerPoint slides at the side of the stage. Audience members will be excused for giving more importance to your slides than to you as the presenter.

In a large room you would ideally have two screens, one on each side of the stage, so that audience members are not forced to strain to see your slides, thereby taking their focus off you.

So, ideally you should position the data projector and screen to one side of the stage. If you must use a lectern, position it slightly ‘off centre’ on the opposite side of the stage. This set up allows you to travel from the centre of the stage or ‘hot spot’, to the lectern periodically if and when you need to refer to your notes. If you are not a confident presenter you may prefer to present from behind the lectern for the whole presentation. Whilst this is not ideal, it is an acceptable choice if you have picture-rich, word-free slides that summarise the key messages of the script and engage the audience on your behalf.

2. Keep the lights on!

As an audience member, you know yourself that you will be more inclined to sleep in presentations when the presenter turns off the lights – so don’t do it to your audiences! Unless of course you’d like them to sleep while you are speaking! When the lights are on people feel more inclined to focus on you and your message. If the audience can’t see your slides with the lights on, then redesign them or replace them with a flipchart, whiteboard or some handouts instead.

3. Zen your space – tidy up your power cords

The 3rd tip in the set-up of your room relates to the management of the distractions that can be caused by messy cords that bunch and weave in full view of the audience. Make sure you take your own gaffer tape to your events and tape down the cords, or arrange it with the venue so they do it for you. This way you are maximising the likelihood that the audience will pay attention to you and your message.