8 Tips for Presenters

8 Tips for Presenters

Posted October 27, 2016 by Heather Hutson

I love my job. The whole process scratches my theatre itch. We plan a show, we pack a show, we load a show, we tech a show and then we have executive rehearsals.  When we mic up a presenter we tell him the same thing every time. SO I thought it may be useful to write about what we tell these guys.

Here are the tips we give to a presenter when he/she is rehearsing. Let’s pretend YOU are the presenter.

First we take you backstage and review the content. We confirm that we have the latest version of your presentation loaded into the show computers. This is the time for any last minute tweaks. “We just got new numbers in, we are at 103% of plan now,”  that sort of thing.

Second, if you’re cuing your own slides (as opposed to reading from a cued prompter script) we will hand you the clicker.  I have been taught it is best practice to only go forward,  if you want to go back, say, “Can we go back?”  We do this because you can  accidentally hit the back button and then get flustered when the slides go backwards. While you may think that you are advancing your slides, you are actually cuing the graphics artist, and they are advance when they see the cue light backstage. This is a risk reduction technique. We are protecting you  from accidentally hitting the wrong button.badge-001

After the slide review we will ask you to either leave your phone off stage, turn it off, or put in airplane mode. Some phone carrier signals cause a clicking sound in the PA system. It’s best to simply play it safe.

Take off the lanyard.  It looks dorky. AND it can rub against the mic and make noise.

Don’t pace onstage.  Sometimes when you practice our presentation at home, you’ll  pace. It’s  good for focus but bad for presenting. When you’re pacing, you’ll have a tendency to look down.  Which again, is bad for presenting. You’re supposed to talk to us, not the floor! And all the back and forth can cause the audience to feel like they’re watching a tennis match.laying-in-a-coffin

How should you move then? Walk with purpose to one side of the stage. Stop. Stand on two feet and address the audience.  This seems really basic.  But a lot of times a you’ll  sway from one foot to the other and it makes us all seasick.  Walk. Stop. Stand. Talk. (Hey, that rhymes!)

What should you do with you hands? Gesture appropriately and naturally.  When you’re not gesturing, keep them comfortably at your sides, or put a hand in one pocket.  I see a lot of men, especially, hold their hands in front of them as if in prayer, or laying in a coffin.

Most important of all, relax.  There is a reason why you’ve been asked to present. No one knows more about this subject that you do.  You’ve researched, you’ve prepared, you’ve done everything you can do.  Now, simply relax and communicate. Who’s better than you? No one.

So that’s it, that’s what I tell presenters.  Of course there’s no hard and fast rules, just some tried and true best practices.

What about you? Is there something you do differently? We’d love to hear it.

Have a great show everyone.

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