Preparing to present – getting the logistics right

Every presentation you make to a customer or prospect is important. Every time you’re on your feet in front of a group you are demonstrating your skills and knowledge; it’s another element of building trust with your customers. 

It will be important to you and your business that you get a good response from your presentation. Maybe you’re pitching for business or it’s an important job interview. So you won’t want to let yourself down by being late, going to the wrong venue, forgetting your laptop or the charging cable, or having a stain on your shirt or blouse. 

Making sure you get there with time to spare, looking your best and with all your documents and equipment working well may be as important as the talk itself. It’s called getting the ‘hygiene factors right’; in the same way as having a clean kitchen won’t guarantee you good health, a dirty kitchen may lead to ill health. So getting the logistics right won’t guarantee you the business, getting them wrong may affect your chances of success. 

For instance, you don’t want to be late, if you can possibly avoid it. If you start your presentation with “I’m really sorry I’m late…” you will have your work cut out to recover that position. Why would they choose to work with you if you can’t get to a meeting on time? Make the time to do get the fundamentals right. 

Do get there on time if you want to make a good impression. One of my early mentors would say that if you’re anywhere less than 10 minutes before the allotted time, you’re late. On one occasion I had a meeting with a large corporate. I wasn’t expecting to stand in a slow queue for the reception desk and then have my photo taken. I was about 20 minutes late for the meeting: not a good impression to make. 

How you look and seem will have an immediate subconscious effect on them. As soon as they see you your audience will judge you; just walking into the room you will have created an impression. You want that effect to be positive. You want them to be thinking “there’s a strong, confident speaker; we can work with him or her”. So pay attention to what you wear and how you walk into the building and into the room.

Business dress these days can be a tricky subject – for men, for example, to wear a tie and a jacket or not? These things you can check with your host. A simple question, what’s the dress code? Our suggestion is for you to look good. OK, you’re not going to a wedding but I believe it’s about respect. I want to look as though I’ve made an effort, and not look as though I’ve just got up, come in from gardening, or from a 12-hour flight! Even if you’re only presenting for 20 minutes that’s a long time for an audience to be looking at you. You want them to be listening to what you’re saying, not wondering why you didn’t shine your shoes or find time to find a suit that fits. And if you don’t normally pay much attention to your dress then ask a partner or close friend. 

Finally do consider your car. Is it clean, inside and out? You may find yourself parking in front of the Boardroom window. Remember you’re making an impression as soon as you arrive on their premises, and that will include the car park. 

Why not create a checklist for yourself of what you need to do. Do this when you’re preparing the presentation, some time before, and then check things off the day before. Don’t forget that some things will take some time to organise: if you want to clean that suit then that’ll take a day or so, unless you want to rush around the day before. Much better to spend your time planning and rehearsing.  

Take the time to get organised. It’ll make it easier next time. And the real value is that you and your well-prepared and well-delivered presentation will have a good chance of success!

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