Today I am teaching a group of people how to create dynamic PowerPoint presentations. So I arrived at my client’s office at 8:15 and went to the conference room to set up. With the help of the IT guy, I made sure that my Macbook would play nicely with the projector. I set handouts and business cards on the tables, then I sat down to wait for 9:00 to roll around.
At 9:05, somebody entered the conference room and asked, “The class starts at 10:00, right?” “Uhhhh,” I thoughtfully responded, “Yes. Ten o’clock.” I had arrived almost two hours before go time because I had it in my head that we started at 9:00.
Was that a mistake? Yes, but it was totally worth it. Here’s why showing up early can help you be a better public speaker.
You can work out tech issues
How many times have you arrived at your speaking gig just in the nick of time, only to find out that your computer couldn’t sync with the projector, or that there wasn’t a laptop available, or the organization’s online security protocols prevented you from downloading your presentation from Dropbox or [fill in the unexpected glitch here]? Stuff happens, so you should give yourself enough time to troubleshoot any technological hiccups before the audience shows up. Because you don’t want to be that presenter who’s fumbling with the computer as people are arriving.
You can run through your presentation
Since I had so much free time before the start of class, I went through my show. Good thing I did, because I had forgotten about the video clip I’d included. After hearing it run through silently, I found Mr. IT and asked him to patch the audio through the speakers.
You can also use this time to rehearse your speech, remember where your animations are, and practice using the remote.
You can soothe your nerves
If you are anxious about your performance, you can use the time to relax, breathe deeply, and visualize your successful presentation. Get a drink of water. Walk around. Stretch. Caaaaaallllllllmmmm. There, doesn’t that feel better?
You can use the extra time productively
I was able to write this blog post in the time I spent waiting for my audience to arrive. Making mistakes then writing about them help you to see the positive side and to enable others to learn from them.
Whoops, it’s 9:41! Guess I’d better wrap this up!