4 Tips That Help You Work the Room When You Present

Image:  Amy Russell

At some point during your career, you’re likely to give presentations at work. It may be solo, or as part of a team. When that time comes, you want to be prepared and ready to go. You may have a kick ass video, a visually appealing slide show or some stellar handouts, but if you’re presenting in a new location, or a client’s place of business, let me give you some advice. Your success as a presenter goes beyond that. You need to be prepared for the unexpected so you don’t get anxious. This article contains four tips to help you work the room like a business professional.

1. Arrive early

There’s nothing worse than being flustered before you give a presentation. Running behind schedule is usually avoidable. So, don’t get caught running late; arrive early. You waste valuable time on the agenda when you aren’t ready to go and it can irritate the hell out of people who have other pressing matters! Plus, a few minutes to yourself allows you to check your materials, gather your wits, grab some water, compose yourself beforehand and greet the early birds.

2. Check the room

If you want to work the room, you need to check it first. Make sure you know where you’re going to sit or stand while you’re presenting. If you are comfortable with the room and your surroundings, it will make a big difference in how you feel overall. If you are going to use a projector it’s a good time to confirm that people in the back of the room can read the fine print, like numbers on a financial report, or graph labels. If that information is critical to your key talking points, you may want to increase the font size, print some handouts, or take more time to explain those critical aspects to your audience.

3. Know how to use equipment

If you need a cord (power or otherwise) for your laptop and one can't be found, you’re screwed as well as flustered. So, be mindful of what equipment or accessories you might need and have them readily available. I’ve heard horror stories from sales reps who have been on site at a client's, and they don’t know how something works, or they lost 20 minutes trying to track down a cord. Be prepared, so you don’t lose precious time and momentum.

If you don’t know how to use Cisco Webex Meeting Center for example, you look unprofessional, unprepared and your remote attendees will not be impressed. How can you be persuasive when you can’t pull off a presentation? Practice is important of course, but when you are off-site or in different surroundings, know what is what and how to use it.

4. Limit your caffeine

Granted some folks may suggest Red Bull as the elixir that gives them energy and helps them engage with their audience. However, if you’re a newbie, tend to get nervous and don’t present often (or ever), it’s going to have the opposite effect (unless you were up all night prepping, or you stayed out late drinking). Most people don’t need the added boost caffeine provides because their body is already in overdrive. So, grab some water, breathe slowly and strut your stuff.

Good Luck! If you have some extra tips to add to the list, please share them!