Protect Your Next Speech From The Room!

by drjim on May 3, 2011

You Control The Room, Don't Let The Room Control You…

You Control The Room, Don’t Let The Room Control You…

I’ll bet that you didn’t know that the next time that you give a speech, the room is going to be actively conspiring against you! Yep, it’s true – no matter how cozy and inviting the room that you are going to be speaking in may appear, it is actually working against you. This room has chewed up and spit out tougher speakers than you – what makes you think that you’ll do any better? The good news is that I know what you need to do in order to survive and I’m going to share it with you…

Why The Room Matters

Of all of the things that a speaker has to worry about when giving a speech, worrying about the room in which the speech will be given often comes towards the bottom of the list. However, it turns out that it should really be much higher on the list of things that we take care of…

The reason that the room can play such a large role in how your next speech is received is simply because it is really a part of your speech. If the room cooperates, then your audience will be comfortable and won’t be distracted by outside noises. If the room doesn’t cooperate, then it’s going to be hard to pay attention to you because there will be plenty of other things going on that will distract your audience.

How To Make Peace With Your Room

Gene Perret is a professional speaker who has spent a lot of time studying how we can make peace with our rooms. He says that in order to be able to deliver an effective presentation, speakers need to take control of their room.

Remember, the room is not just the physical space that you’ll occupy while you are giving your speech. Rather it’s all that plus the things that are part of it: the sounds, the lights, the food that is being served, etc. You may not be able to control everything, but you can at least make sure that you know and understand the room that you’ll be speaking in.

Perret believes that there are 3 things that we need to do as speakers in order to make peace with our next room: know it, know your speech, and know how to make changes. Knowing the room is the most straight forward: how do you want the audience to be sitting – banquet, theater, or classroom seating? Will you be speaking from a stage or just standing at a head table?

The next step is to determine how your speech is going to work with the room that you have. What you are going to have to do is to adjust – you’re going to have to make the speech that you are going to be giving work with the room that you have to work with. This can be as simple as standing on the middle of the stage so that everyone in a crowded room can see you or getting off the stage and walking in the audience if you have a smaller crowd.

Finally, you’re going to have to be able to adjust to the conditions that you find yourself with. Sure you can change the things that can be changed before your audience shows up; however, there will probably be some things that you need to live with. As speakers we need to understand that this is the way that life goes and you need to make the best of the situation.

What All Of This Means For You

Every speaker needs to realize that the room in which they will be speaking will play a key role in how successful their next speech is. Ignore it at your own peril!

As a speaker you need to take charge of the room and make it work with your speech, not against it. This means arriving early so that you can become familiar with your room, understanding how your particular speech will (or won’t) work with the room, and finally you need to know how to transform the room so that it will work with your speech.

Taking the time to understand the role that the room will play in your next speech is a technique that is used by the best speakers. If you follow their lead and make the room work with your speech, you’ll be amazed at just how friendly the room can become.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How much before your next speech do you think you should show up in order to check out the room?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s say that you owned a lot of real estate. One of your properties was located on the edge of an ocean. Front this lot you could see the most beautiful sunsets every single night. Now you are getting ready to build some houses on the properties that you own. What kind of house are you going to build on your ocean front property? I suspect that it’s going to be the nicest house that you build – you are going to want the house to match the fantastic piece of property that it sits on. Turns out that you need to use the same thinking when you are creating an opening for your next speech

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Trivers May 4, 2011 at 8:56 am

Jim,

I’ve always coached that there are three elements to any speech or presentation: the audience, the environment and the speaker, so I’m with you on your point here.

Speakers should also try to influence the room set-up in advance. Unless you’re speaking at a meal, you can usually ask for the set-up that works best for the audience and therefore for you. Audiences like to be comfortable, so give them theater-style seating with no center aisle, and the chairs on each side angled towards the platform or front of the room. Next in terms of comfort is classroom style, again with the side seats/tables angled inward. Least comfortable is any arrangement that forces some in the audience to crane their necks or turn their shoulders in order to see you.

I’ve found that most venues don’t give audience comfort a thought when setting up seating, and meeting planners don’t think about this either. You as the speaker are really responsible for doing this, and you shouldn’t hesitate. When the audience is comfortable, they’ll listen to you and enjoy your message.

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Dr. Jim Anderson May 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Susan: great point! I guess this is why they tell us to show up nice and early before any speaking opportunity (so that we can fix the way that the room is set up!)…

Reply

Fred E. Miller May 28, 2011 at 9:54 am

Excellent Post, Jim.

You brought up some items I was not aware of, and others that reinforced things I knew.

My thoughts on how early to arrive before a presentation is two hours minimum!
http://www.nosweatpublicspeaking.com/youre-scheduled-to-speak-at-1000arrive-at-800/

There are so many things that may not be what you were expecting that it’s imperative to be able to adjust and readjust as needed.

Thanks for the Post!

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