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Helping the Speaker feel Comfortable

Some speakers present 200 times a year, and are extremely relaxed on stage, while others will want hours of rehearsals and you want to do all you can to make them feel comfortable.  Below are a few things you can do to help the nervous speaker feel more at ease.

  • Provide a written copy of the agenda to the speakers upon arrival, even though you’ve sent it to them 5 times.
  • Send a gift (cheese and crackers are nice) to their room the night before the speaking engagement with a hand written note saying how much you appreciate their participation.    
  • Offer to show the speaker the stage set during set up, before the rehearsal.  Being able to visualize the meeting room and the actual stage helps when they are practicing in their hotel room.
  • Summarize the audience demographics.
  • On the stage, provide several bottles of water behind the stage podium.
  • Review your technical back ups such as “if your microphone should have any trouble, Jack is on stage right with a backup.”   
  • Allow at least 25 uninterrupted minutes for rehearsal.
  • Introduce the speaker to the "man behind the curtain" - the actual human who will be watching the computer advance. 
  • Simply Ask.  Asking, “Is there anything I can do to help you before you speak?”  allows the speaker to make a request that may have seemed silly, but is bothering them.

 And the biggest way to help speakers feel prepared?  Require all presentations be sent to you ahead of time.  Having a “due date” for all speaker presentations forces your speakers prepare ahead of time and feel more “ready” even if they have slight changes the day of the event.

For more on prepping your speakers, check out this entry.  And be sure to complement the nervous speaker at the end of the show.  It's not easy getting up there.

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