Monday, July 06, 2009

Don’t complain to your audience

Last week at a conference I saw a speaker do something that I recommend never doing. She complained about the A/V setup to the audience. The room wasn’t the best room, I’ll give her that. It was what we refer to as a bowling alley room - very long and narrow, so the last row was quite a distance from the stage. The screen was set directly under a fluorescent light that couldn’t be turned off unless you darkened the entire front of the room. And the microphone was a wired lavaliere mic. All of these made for less than ideal conditions. But as a presenter, you need to work with what you are given.

Instead, she made a comment close to the start of the presentation about the fact that she was supposed to have a wireless lav mic and instead got this wired one that was less convenient. Later in the presentation she made a similar comment about the mic. She is a member of a professional speaking association and I sat there thinking to myself, “Even if you are thinking those thoughts in your head, never say them out loud!”

As presenters, our audiences expect us to focus on their needs. By complaining about the A/V or room setup out loud, you tell the audience that this is really all about you, the presenter, not about them. You need the right mic, the right type of room, etc. Hogwash! I’ve been in horrible rooms and used poor A/V but that is not the audience’s problem. As the presenter, it is up to me to still make the experience for the audience the best it can be. Take this lesson to heart. No matter what the setup is, your job is to deliver your message to that audience. No one said everything was always going to be perfect in life, so get over it and deliver anyway.


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