These five tips will have you arriving confidently to deliver your next presentation instead of sweating over what could have been handled ahead of time.
1. Get a lay of the land, a few weeks before arriving
Ask for pictures of the venue because different room configurations and logistics will change how you deliver -- from where you'll position yourself if you're using PowerPoint to knowing if you can move freely through where the audience is seated.
Will you be up on a dais or at floor level? Find out if your attendees will be configured in a horseshoe shape or the traditional row after row. You should also know what type of mic is supplied. Is it fixed or will you be wearing a lavaliere that will let you move freely? If you're fixed at a podium will there be a confidence monitor available or will you be relying on your laptop's presenter view?
Getting a feel for the space will help you mentally prepare and provide an opportunity to physically practice in a way that mirrors your actual presentation on event day.
2. Back it up, back it up, back it up
We all know we should do backups, but often throw caution to the wind. Presentations are high stakes -- you have lots on the line and many people relying on you. Be confident that you will have your presentation available at your fingertips with a backup of your script notes and PowerPoint deck. As well as having a copy on your laptop and jump drive, send them to Dropbox or to yourself using WeTransfer. Having multiple copies easily accessible will give you peace of mind. It only takes a few minutes -- an investment well worthwhile.
3. Give yourself an extra travel day
You'd be working in your own best interest to arrive the day before. We're all on tight schedules, and it's tempting to fly in the day of your presentation.
From delays at the airport, to long security lines that cause you to miss your flight, to snarled traffic once you land -- all are anxiety creators that will stop you from arriving relaxed and at your best.
Flying in the day before also gives you an opportunity to check out the room and meet with the audio/sound tech. Do a run-through of your slidedeck to make sure the text is readable from the back of the room and also do a quick sound check.
Usually, what can go wrong often does, and arriving the day before lets you stand before your audience confidently.
4. Ask for clear directions -- and contact numbers
Have you ever thought you knew where you were going and arrived at the wrong place? I have more times than I'd care to admit. Take the stress out of having to think about where you need to be and ask for clear directions to get to the venue room. Also, ask for the organizer's cell number and provide yours in case you get delayed to alleviate the franticness of searching for contact numbers
5. Have Technology Working For You. Not Against You
Check that all of your equipment is working -- from your laptop to your clicker. Fully charge each device looping your chords through your briefcase handles so you don't leave a charger behind. Does your remote have fresh batteries? It's easier to pull a pack of batteries from your briefcase than scramble to find the nearest convenience store.
Make sure you have the right dongle connections -- don't rely on the venue to have them. And here's a pro tip for you: Do you know the aspect ratio the event organizers want your PowerPoint set to? It makes a difference to whether your slidedeck looks professional or not.
I often share this "not thinking through the 'what if's' example" with my clients. It's Transformers director Michael Bay on stage at a CES event. He was completely unprepared. Don't be him.