Bare-ass Strategies to Make Your Program Sing


by Burt Dubin on September 17, 2010

Bare-ass strategies to Make Your Program Sing

OK,  I don’t expect you to burst into song as you stand there before your audience.

What I mean is, do you want to make your programs more effective for everyone attending?

Would you like to receive even better Evaluations every time you speak ?

And do you hunger for more wild-eyed, enthusiastic referrals and recommendations to qualified decision makers who could hire you?

Here’s the fruit of experiences I endured:

Over 25 years of experience standing before audiences all over the English speaking world—and more goof-ups and pratfalls than I’ll ever choose to admit—qualifies me to share the 7 strategies that follow:

Ceiling speakers not all on:

1. Double-check all ceiling speakers are turned on and the volume level is right in every part of your room.  Do this a couple hours before your program to allow time for any adjustments.  Why:  to avoid having part of your audience unable to hear you, as happened to me in Sydney a few years ago.

Wireless mike stops working:

2. Always have a hard-wired reserve microphone in place and ready to use.  I learnt this lesson, Mabel, a few years ago in Washington D.C.  The 5 minutes of no sound did not thrill that audience one bit.

Not causing audiences to see others respond

to what you say and do:

3. Create curved seating arrangements:  From a crescent to a half-moon of chairs, each chair directly facing you.  Why:  You want your audience members to see reactions of others to whatever you say or do.  You get more prolonged laughter when you say something hilarious and people see how others respond.

All the energy draining down your center aisle:

4. Eliminate the center aisle.  Instead, create 2 aisles on each side of a center section.  Most fire codes allow for 13 to 15 seats in a center section.  Here’s what this does for your audiences experience:  It adds energy to your room.  Try this.  Experience the difference at once.

Losing half your audience due to poor room arrangement:

5. Locate the riser or stage at the center of the longest wall in the room—and as far as possible from the entrance doors.

(Do not ever allow yourself to speak from one end of a long, narrow room.)  This happened to me in a Hyatt in L.A.   Never again!

Lost strangers wandering into your room through an unlocked door close to you:

6. Be sure all room entrances are locked shut, except the doors farthest from you.  This access control minimizes jarring interruptions to your program.

A/V equipment conking out while you speak:

7. This happened to me more than once.  Be sure there is a spare bulb ready to go. In a major gig have a spare projector at the ready.

Finally, use checklists. See your room the evening before your event and again early in the morning of your program.  Weird things can happen when the night shift room set-up people are there.  Some do not read or understand one word of English.

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