meeting

“You want me to speak to a large audience?”

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Excerpt from "On-The-Job Speech Training" 

You never expected to be in this position. Your boss always does a great job at these meetings. Never in a million years did you anticipate having to stand up there as well. As a product manager or specialist with the firm, you are now charged with the responsibility to communicate your knowledge at the next meeting.

Delivering presentations to large groups was probably not on your resume, in your job description, or listed in the skills required for the job. It is now!

This is not a book on “How to Write” an effective speech, but rather, “How to Deliver” a knockout presentation with confidence.

We’ve all seen what happens when politicians, clergy, even co-workers stand before an audience and deliver a message that is interesting, informative, and welcomed by all.

We’ve also seen what happens when someone is ill-prepared and unsuccessfully delivers a message on stage.

You won’t find an “easy” answer here, but you will benefit from this book’s proven “toolbox” of successful speaking techniques. When used and practiced, these “tools” will result in great experiences as you speak in front of any audience.

"On-The-Job Speech Training" is currently available in bulk or single issues by writing to me rfranklin@stageamerica.com. Single copies $9.95, bulk (10+) 25% discount.

Book Ray Franklin, The 8-Minute Speech Coach 

Why can't we see the entire screen?

Don't approve a meeting setup until you test sightlines from the worst seat.

Don't approve a meeting setup until you test sightlines from the worst seat.

AV101 In order to see anything in the front of your meeting room it must be at least 5 feet 4 inches above the floor.

Try it. Have someone sit in front of you in any meeting room, regardless of room size.

What can you see over the head of the friend between you and the screen in the room? NOTHING below 5'4"!

 

If this is the case how big a screen can be seen in a room with a 9' ceiling?  (Hint: 9' minus 5 feet)

If you don't use the screen top valence and place the screen at its highest, the useful screen height is only 4 feet.

That looks like a mistake in an empty room before the audience sits down, but the fact is, anything below that feet is wasted so don't expect the attendees to see material below that. I have seen 8' tall screens placed in a 9' ceiling breakout room. When asked, the hotel AV tech said, "They wanted the largest screen possible."

Now the question is how many people can read what is on a 4' high screen? Using the legibility formula (FV = 8x H) anyone further than 28' from the screen will not be able to read typical detail.

If you follow my previous posts you will see a recurring theme: ceiling height = legibility.

"Nobody ever complained before." WHAT?

Of course you can't see his face!

Of course you can't see his face!

I am too often surprised when I see a setup like this. 

Why do meeting planners put up with bad decisions from venues? Certainly everyone in this meeting knows they can't see the face of the presenter, the props or award winners brought to stage.

Subscribe and contribute to this blog to add current content from your experiences. Also Facebook #AudienceAdvocate.

Here are some previous entries. Share with co-workers, meeting planners and your AV supplier.

You have to arrive early at my church to sit in the back row.

So why put the back row so far away from the stage in your next meeting? "Bowling alley" (stage on short wall) seating is the least effective meeting layout.

Bowling room meeting style.

Always try to put your presenter on the long wall. This allows more people to sit closer to the front - and a bigger back row.

It is ideal to have the audience walk into a meeting from the back of the audience. That way they don't disturb everyone when folks come and go.

If the entrance has to be on the side of the audience, install a 10' wide pipe and drape inside the ballroom, 8' from the entrance door. At least the distraction of opening and closing the door is eliminated.

Two other seating notes: NO CENTER AISLE and STAGGER THE SEATS.

Stagger seats

Why no center aisle? That is where the best seats are. Have you ever seen a center aisle in a movie theater or broadway play? No you haven't.

You also don't see one chair placed directly behind another in any real theater. So why do you accept hotel seating that way? Remind the setup crew this is true theater seating - one seat half way between the seats in front..

Request an 18" - 24" walking space between rows. This encourages people to fill in a row without those on the isle having to stand up to let them in/out.

If allowed, set each chair 4" from each other side-by-side. The average width of a banquet chair is 18". The average width of the typical audience member is more than that.

It will take some extra time to set the room but when you take these steps you get a happier audience and a more productive meeting/event. You will hear many excuses from the setup supervisor. Agree on room layout guidelines and theater seating before you sign the contract.

You will have to be prepared for the venue to repeatedly say "nobody has ever complained about the way we set a room." Best practices are on your side BEFORE you sign the contract.

For a real world seating capacity chart try this instead of the inflated capacity charts from the hotels. Hotel capacity charts don't consider safe side aisle or comfortable seating. Most fire marshals will not allow the published capacities.

Check out a Google search for ballroom meetings. Look for good and bad setups. Don't be surprised all pictures are taken from a standing position in the rear of an empty room - it doesn't represent what any audience member sees with someone sitting in front of them..

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