This is my 5th post on presenting, based on the many mistakes I've made in the past. Today I would like to focus on the importance of not hiding from the audience. When I first started presenting I would often use the facilities setup at the event, such as standing behind a speaker's podium or sit behind a table. I quickly learned that having something between you and your audience is a bad idea, it creates a psychological barrier. I found people were far more engaged and interactive when I walked right up to them with nothing physically between us. As such, I quickly learned that whenever possible do not limit yourself to the facilities provided. Instead, break that barrier and walk right up to the audience. In factI often myself often walking up and down the aisles, reaching the people sitting even in the far back. A couple things to consider here though.
- You need a wireless microphone for larger rooms. Sometimes facilities require that you use the microphone at the podium or a table, locking you in. If that happens ask for a hand-held remote or worse case scenario simply walk around and talk louder (advantage of being an Army tank officer in past life, you learn how to talk VERY loud). This may drive the conference folks nuts if they are trying to record you, but I always feel that is their problem. Your job is to present the best talk possible.
- If you are walking around, be sure the front of your body is always facing the audience. For example when you are walk into the audience, make sure when you are walking back to the front you walk backwards keeping that body always facing forward.