What’s your backup plan for presenters who are delayed or cancel unexpectedly? Plays have understudies – so should your meeting.
Everyone has the potential to be a great presenter – the kind who knows how to connect their content with the audience with an enthusiasm that is powerless to resist. They are usually bombarded with questions afterwards, and the topic of many stretch-break conversations.
Then there’s the flip side…the not-so-great presenter who reads verbatim from the slide, often turning their back to the audience, which may be a small blessing since they can’t see the audience checking their phones to figure out when this train wreck will end.
One of the best ways to tap into the great potential within every speaker is through rehearsal. Too often, rehearsal time is seen as nice-to-have, rather than a requirement. But scheduling rehearsal time is one of the easiest and most effective ways to guarantee that everyone – from the presenters to the audience to the crew – has an awesome show.
Rehearsals come in three models – Full, Click and Walk. Think of them as Deluxe, Standard and Streamlined. Use your speaker’s availability and experience – as well as your own comfort level – to determine which model works best.
No matter what you select, there are things you can do for each that will improve their effectiveness.
1. Full Rehearsal
In a perfect world, every presenter would have a full rehearsal. They are a fantastic way to build confidence, not just for them, but also for your crew. From their play-on music to their exit, this is the presenter’s chance to think through their entire presentation. They can see every element, understand how they integrate, and then make any adjustments.
Full rehearsal allows you to talk through any production needs, such as teleprompter scrolling speed, automatic slide advance, audio special effects, embedded media, props, and audience participation. The more time your production crew has to practice these elements, the smoother they will run during the show.
When you have limited time and experienced speakers, a click-though, when a presenter simply stands on stage and punches through their slides, may be sufficient. Make sure to click through the entire presentation to make sure the slide order and content are correct.
And take a few minutes to introduce the speaker to the production crew, particularly the producer, who can answer any questions about the agenda and room setup questions, the audio technician, who is responsible for mics, and, when available, the floor manager, who is responsible for cuing your presenter to the stage.
Sometimes, you really only have five minutes. Provide your presenter with as much information as possible before their arrival onsite so you make the most of this limited time.
When they arrive, brief them on the room layout, presentation time, call time (what time they need to be in the room), and mic process. Take a moment to confirm their presentation length and elements, including any audience interaction. And finally, show them where confidence monitors, clickers, and water will be.
Putting a show together is hard work! Make it count by carving out some rehearsal time. Your audience, presenter, and yes, even your own sanity, will thank you.