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Presentation Set Up: Things to Do Before You Start Speaking

September 3, 2014 / Blog, Presentation Science, Rick Enrico Blog, Tips & Tricks presentation delivery, presentation set up, presentation tips

It’s the big day. You’ve spent weeks preparing for this presentation. Your PowerPoint deck follows every design tip you found online. Your content is straightforward and concise. You even prepared handouts. And now you have a few minutes left before you’re scheduled to present.

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If you want your presentation to be successful, make sure that you’ve got these things pat down:

1. Familiarize yourself with the venue

It’s hard to be comfortable in an unfamiliar setting, so use the extra time to scope out your environment. When addressing an audience for a big presentation, you need to feel relaxed. It will be hard to do that if you can’t adjust the microphone to your height, or if you’re blinded by stage lights. Familiarize yourself with every aspect of the venue, including its equipment and seating arrangement.

Most importantly, set up your PowerPoint deck right away to make sure that everything is working perfectly once your presentation begins.

2. Rehearse the beginning of your presentation

According to communication coach Gary Genard, the first minute of your presentation is crucial. During that time, your audience will start forming their opinion of you as a presenter.

Do you know your material well? Are you a trustworthy source? To give them the best impression, you need to begin your presentation with something unique and captivating. Whatever you have planned, rehearse it in your mind before you take the stage.

3. Listen to your body

With moments left before your big presentation, you might think it’s better to just jump right in. As much as you want to start as soon as you can, it’s also important to listen to what your body is telling you.

Is your heart beating fast? Are you breathless from feeling nervous? Take a moment to calm yourself down with some stretching and breathing exercises. And if you feel like you have to, make sure you use the bathroom.

4. Focus on achieving a positive outcome

It’s normal to feel anxious about presenting. In order to calm yourself down, try focusing on positive thoughts. Don’t think about the myriad of things that could go wrong during your presentation.

Try not to worry about how your audience will react or how the equipment might malfunction. Keep your eyes on the prize and concentrate on the outcome you’re aiming for.

5. Assume the “power pose”

In her famous TED Talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” Amy Cuddy introduces a way you can channel success and confidence by simply changing the way you stand. She calls it the “power pose.”

According to Cuddy, a social psychologist by profession, power posing can affect the levels of testosterone and cortisol in your brain. Simply stand straight, hold up your arms in a ‘V’ shape, and lift your chin.

Think of the times you posed as a superhero when you were a child. It may seem silly, but it’s an effective way to “fake” confidence. Hold the pose for two minutes if you feel nervous about starting your presentation.

Your presentation set up can make or break the outcome you’re aiming for. Make sure you take the necessary steps so everything runs according to plan.

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How to Begin a Presentation: The Critical First 60 Seconds.” Genard Method. Accessed September 03, 2014.
Your body language shapes who you areAmy Cuddy. TED. Accessed September 03, 2014.


Featured Image: Oscar Rethwil via