Six questions you should ask before accepting an invitation to speak to a group…

questionsSpeaking to a group is a fabulous opportunity to share, teach and sell your expertise. It raises your profile, it expands your ‘reach’ and it increases your impact. BUT there are some questions you need to ask before accepting that invitation and starting to put your presentation together:

  1. What is the purpose of the meeting and where does your presentation fit with that…?

For your presentation to resonate and add value to the listeners it is essential that you understand what else they will be experiencing before and after your presentation. Knowing this can help you set your content into context and allow you to link to events prior and after your session

  1. What do the organisers want you to talk about and why?

All too often organisers ask you to talk about your ‘Thing’. This is great as it gives you plenty of choice but sometimes that is such a wide remit, you might want to narrow it down so that you can be more targeted.

  1. How long will you have to speak, including questions and ‘hand over time’.

It is important to be respectful of time and make sure that you can tailor your content to the time available. You could talk for ever I am sure about your subject but this isn’t usually possible: somehow you need to fit your key message into a predetermined time slot. This requires time to craft and skill to deliver. Equally it is useful to know if there will be time for questions or whether there is a coffee break where you can take individual or more complex questions.

  1. How many listeners will you have in the audience?

An obvious question I suppose but one people often forget to take into consideration. Obviously numbers are key so that you know how many resources to bring. Numbers also prepare you for: whether you need a microphone, where you will need to stand, types of visual aids you could use, types of movement you will need to make, level of audience participation you can employ.

  1. What is the layout of the room?

While most people will ask about where people will be sitting and whether they will be in a theatre style, cabaret styles, U-shape or boardroom style, few think about the implications of this in terms of stage management for the Speaker. For example can you stand centre-stage? (always better if you can), can everyone see you without straining or turning their necks, what eye contact will listeners have with each other and with you? Can you move in and out of the audience if you wanted to? Where is the projection of the slides (if you are using any) and how can you move around and between these?

  1. What value can you add for the listeners?

This is one of the most important questions to ask. If you can’t add value, then don’t accept… be clear about what you want people to know, do and feel at the end of your presentation. Understand how what you have to share can have an impact on the listeners’ experience. And tailor your content and message for that specific audience.

Would you add any others…? Have you ever organised a speaker to attend an event? What mistakes do visiting speakers make?

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