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Loren McDonald
Works at Silverpop | Email Marketing/Marketing Automation
Attended San Francisco State University
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Loren McDonald

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In Speaker Tip #9 I talked about the challenges of speaking in a very large room and how I approached the challenge at a specific conference. In this tip I look at the opportunities to turn a small room into the equivalent of a fireside chat.

The Small Room

When your session is in a small room, such as for breakout sessions or client, prospect or internal meetings, you have the opportunity to create a truly intimate experience for the attendees. Your approach should be very different from the example in my previous tip of dealing with a gargantuan-sized room.

As with any presentation, check the room out in advance and attend at least one other session in your or an identical room if possible. But at minimum, get their early to set up. Assess:

- What are the room's acoustics like?
- Is there a small riser for the stage or none at all?
- Where is the presentation screen located - to the side of the stage, in the middle?
- How deep is the room?
- How much room do you have to move around?

Armed with a good feel for the room you can plan your approach. The benefit of a small room is that it opens up several options to you, because of the intimacy of the audience. Possibilities include:

- If the room acoustics and your voice permit it, and your session isn't being recorded, consider not using a microphone. This let's the audience know that your session is going to be more intimate, almost a chat with friends.

- If there is a stage or small riser, consider moving to the floor to be among the audience. You can either start your presentation from the floor or I often will jump off the stage. It can help to get the audience's attention and to stop checking email. For me it us often just part of my shtick - but it signals that I want the audience to join me "on stage,"

- Don't just stand in the front of the room, consider walking around. Bring your "presence" up close and personal.

- Read the faces of audience members. If you see someone nodding their head a lot, walk toward them and ask them a question. Get the audience involved in your presentation. Have them confirm your message or start a conversation. 

- Be flexible. In a small room, especially for private events, you have the opportunity - and challenge - of the audience asking many questions or having dialog in your session taking lots of time from your planned presentation duration. I recently had a small group turn a slide I had planned to spend 1-2 minutes on into a 15 minute discussion. It was the best part of the event and presentation, but fortunately we had built in 30 minutes for Q&A at the end so we were OK on time. But also have a plan in advance on which slides you can either skip or go over very quickly so that you can still end on time.

- Use the screen as a prop. In a small room you can typically walk right up in front of the presentation screen and "annotate" aspects of various slides. I like to point to things, cover numbers up and then reveal them for greater effect. Use your imagination and spice it up.

- Use physical humor/body language. Because you are so close physically to the audience you can use facial expressions, body language and voice inflections and pauses to greater effect than if you are 100 feet away on a large stage. When you are walking around the room, have some fun and use your body, audience members, props in the room - whatever you can find and makes sense - to add life and an additional dimension beyond your slides.

- Handouts and gifts. Always make sure your marketing and events teams are involved. With a group of 25 versus 250, you might be able to print up copies of ebooks, white papers, put materials on USB sticks, provide gifts or toys, place business cards on every chair or desk, and other items that convey the more personal nature of the room or event.

While very large rooms are very exciting because you on a "large stage" and your message is reaching hundreds or more, small rooms and audiences present the opportunity to turn a presentation into a meaningful conversation and greater value for the audience. Make sure you are prepared to take advantage of that opportunity.

Please share any experiences or tips you have on presenting in small rooms. Until my next tip, remember to be aware, prepare and respond.
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Excited to speak at Emirates Stadium #figdigdhc
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Ha Mark ... I spoke inside in the Club level ... about 150 people in total attendance ...
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Decent little window sign promoting email sign-up ... but where is the QR code +Scott Stratten guess they didn't want to kill any kittens?
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Speaker Tip #8: Beyond Your Slides - Understanding The Context of Your Session

Not surprisingly, most speakers/presenters spend probably 90+% of their preparation time working on their slides. However, slides are a bit like what a script is to a movie - you still need actors and the set to bring the story to life.

I refer to this totality of your presentation as your "speaker canvas." Your slides (and audio and video if used) are your paint and multi-media that is applied to your "canvas."

Think about a film maker and their changing "canvas" today. As a movie watcher your enjoyment of a film can differ widely based on the comfort of the theater, Were there teens texting and talking in the theater?; Did you watch it on a plane on a small poorly lit screen?; On an iPad by the pool?; In 5 sequences over a few weeks on Netflix?; On your big screen at home?; Or after a disappointing restaurant experience or argument with your significant other?

While clearly different from a film viewing experience, presenting also has potentially dozens of variables that can dramatically affect an audiences' experience with your talk.

These can include:

> Time of day/Time slot: Are you the last of 4 speakers before an overdue break? Are you the last speaker of the day and standing between either cocktails or people heading into their commute home? Are you following an amazing keynote speaker who had the audience laughing in hysterics for an hour?

> Keynote or Breakout: Audiences bring very different expectations to a keynote session than they do a breakout session competing with 10 other sessions at the same time.

> Venue: Are you speaking at a 4- or 5-star resort or dated economy airport hotel? Are attendees relaxed and enjoying the setting for a few days or planning when to leave for their drive home to the suburbs later?

> Mood: Is the audience in a great mood or is their industry or company under significant competitive, pricing or technology threats? Do they what to laugh, be consoled or energized?

> The room: Is the room tiny and cozy or laid out for an audience of thousands while you are only speaking to hundreds? Is it wide and short, long and narrow, or square? Are you close to the audience in an intimate setting or do you feel like the Pope speaking to the masses?

> The stage: Is the stage large enough for a Broadway play or a small riser that if you take 2 steps you will fall off of the stage? Do you have room to prance the stage if that is your style?

> Screen, sound and lighting: Did the event organizer go cheap and not supply a lavalier microphone forcing you to hold the presentation clicker in one hand and handheld mic in the other? Or worse yet force you to use the podium mic? Is the presentation screen not aligned or is the color washed out? Is it a small screen is the center of the stage or several large screens on each side of the stage? Is the room dark like a movie theater or do the stage lights blind you and you have trouble seeing the audience?

> Session Title and Description: Did your PR person submit a topic description and title 9 months earlier that you can't stand and you now intend go in a different direction with your session? What content expectations does the title and description create?

> Co-Presenter: Are you sharing the stage with a client, partner, competitor or co-worker? Are they inexperienced and deathly nervous, soft spoken, have horrible slides or talk forever?

> Physical Health/Well Being: Are you dealing with a cold or cough? Did you take a red eye to the event or stay up all night partying or finishing your slides? If you do much speaking you will likely experience at least 2 of these in short order.

> Familiarity with your presentation/ rehearsal: There will come times in your "speaking career" when you are asked to fill in for someone who had a family emergency; or you were given someone else's slides and you simply didn't have or didn't make the time to "make them yours." 

Some of the above elements that drive your speaking context and available "canvas" are under your control - but many are not. So while you may not have control over the size of the room and layout, your time slot, who speaks before you - you MUST be aware, prepare and respond to these variables as appropriate.

You need to take ownership of the situation and make the best of it or even turn a potential negative situation into a positive. Each one of the above situations may require a different approach or techniques that differ from your original plan for your session. Don't be unprepared and surprised.

In tip #9 I will share a couple of examples of how to use the Aware, Prepare and Respond rule to address different situations such as a cavernous conference ballroom or tiny breakout room.
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Solar Less Than 5¢/kWh In Austin, Texas! (Cheaper Than Natural Gas, Coal, & Nuclear)
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Putin Can’t Turn Off Europe’s Wind
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Excellent blog post from +Matt Byrd of +Litmus on the latest changes with Gmail and images in your emails.
March 26, 2014. Gmail Does It Again: The New Promotions Tab. [ 3 By Matt Byrd. Note: This post has been updated to reflect discoveries made about the new grid view after Gmail launched it to an initial wave of users. If one topic dominated email marketing conversations in 2013, it was definitely ...
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Good share +Loren McDonald :) Glad reading this!
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Some great lessons in hear from Martin Luther King...
 
I have been receiving endorsements for "public speaking" (social networking on the internet) and then I wanted to compare my speaking with other leaders and their style. Take a look. I noticed I carry some of the same qualities as written from this article.
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Speaker Tip #9: Surviving a Room the Size of a Large Airplane Hangar

In Speaker Tip #8 I talked about the importance of preparation beyond your slides. The need to be Aware, Prepare and Respond to situations - mostly out of your control. These include aspects such as the size and layout of the room, the speaker you follow, type of microphone and presentation screen, time of day you speak, size of the stage, and more.

In this tip, the first of two that look at room size, I share a personal story of how I approached speaking in a gargantuan room.

The Airplane Hangar-Sized Conference Hall Room

A few years ago I spoke at a large retail conference and had a 30 minute slot, the last session of the day at 4:45 pm. Not only was I up against the cocktail reception that started at 5:00 pm I was in the main room where Arianna Huffington had been the keynote speaker in front of more than 4,000 attendees earlier in the day.

My first tip off of what I was up against was when I was giving my slides on a USB memory stick to an A/V guy earlier in the day. After realizing which room I was speaking in, he laughed and said "Oh, you are in the airplane hangar."

I immediately went to check out the room and discovered it was indeed the size of a huge airplane hangar, set up for roughly 5,000 people. I was anticipating between 250-500 attendees for my session. Yikes I initially thought.

At moments like this you can either panic, get nervous or frustrated - or start figuring out how you are going to prepare and respond to the situation.

During a break between other sessions in the room, I took the liberty to walk on to the stage and get a feel for what it is like moving around on the massive stage and looking out into the cavernous audience.

I then sat in the audience of a few sessions prior to mine that also had a just a few hundred audience members to get a feel for what it was like being in the audience - potentially hundreds of feet away from the speakers. And this conference did not have video screens so that no matter where you were in the room you could see the speaker in near life-size dimensions.

One thing I noticed was that audience members were spread out throughout the entire room, including the back row and farthest corner. But that the majority of people congregated in two areas near the right side of the stage. I decided my plan would be to focus my energies and eye contact on those two areas which made up 80% of the audience.

Because my session was the last of the day and up against the reception, I knew I had to keep my pace fast and energized - which is what I did once on stage. I also had quite a few slides for a 30 minute session, and so kept my usual banter and elaboration to a minimum. That approach would not have worked this time.

The other goal was to leave them wanting more. I was presenting the results of a study and the build up to the end was for people to come by our booth to get the complete study report. The session went well, the audience was extremely engaged despite the time slot, and more than 200 people immediately walked to our trade booth to get a copy of the study report.

The point and lesson, is that every room you speak in has its own unique characteristics - some positive and some negative. But it is your responsibility as an experienced speaker to be prepared and have a plan as to how you well make the best of every room you present in.

In Speaker Tip #10 I will look at the opposite scenario - speaking in a small, breakout room.

Until then, please share any experiences or tips you have on presenting "super-sized" rooms.
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Too funny, but true
 
CNN: any excuse for a countdown clock.
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Yes, dynamic bidding process as you get closer to zero ... Love it!
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Speaker Tip #7: Have a Transition into Your Q&A Slide

How many times have you watched a speaker proceeding through their slides and then suddenly, without any notice, they click to their "Thank You/Q&A" slide and announce: "That's it, that's all I have. Any questions?"

Whoa Nellie! The speaker slammed on the brakes of their presentation and then what often follows is the speaker or event organizer asking if there are any questions - and frequently there are none, or perhaps one or two.

If you are a well-known personality or author then members of the audience will likely have questions they’ve been dying to ask. But for the rest of us, audience members need some time to start thinking about questions. They need a transition phase and a cue, a signal from the speaker that the Q&A period is almost here.

There are many ways to do this and the right approach will vary based on the topic of your presentation, your speaking style and what you want the audience to leave with. 

Sample approaches include:

> Summary/Takeaways: Summarize the key points of your presentation or list the key takeaways. Hammer home what you want them to leave with.
> Action plan/steps: Transition into your close with a list of next steps or a plan they can put into place. Your plan or steps can be a great way to tee up questions.
> "Questions to ask yourself": An effective ending is to pose a series of questions that the audience should ask themselves. It gets them thinking about their own situation and possible questions to ask the speaker that will help them figure out how to address the speaker's prompting questions.
> Announcement/Surprise: Another approach is to steal a chapter from Steve Jobs and close with "Before I end, I have one more thing to announce." Or this could be one final point that surprises the audience much like a plot twist in a movie ending. The surprise or announcement is a way of signaling that you are almost done.

Do you have any favorite ways to close your presentation and transition the audience into the Q&A period? Or have you seen someone that has a masterful approach? Please share in Comments.
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I knew Hamsters where the key to the universe. I knew it!
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Speaker Tip #6: Done Speaking? You Aren't Done Yet

When you step off the stage and let out that big sigh of relief now that your session is done - take a deep breath because the next phase of your speaking responsibilities have just kicked in.

Here is a high-level list of what you need to do following your presentation (I’ll cover some of those in more detail in future tips):

1. Hang out for questions: Nothing is more annoying to audience members than having the speaker walk off stage and then race to another session, their hotel room or the airport. Meeting people following your session is where business gets done, business cards exchanged and invitations extended for future speaking opportunities. Don’t disappear.

2. Thank everyone: When you are returning the microphone, thank the A/V person for their help and make sure you’ve grabbed all of your own equipment - USB stick and clicker if you used your own. Thank the person who introduced you and ask them and the organizer for immediate feedback. You may not get survey results, so get as much feedback from the organizer when it is fresh in their mind. Also, reinforce the positive things with them: “Wow, weren’t there a lot of great questions? The room was really packed, were other sessions as full? People really seemed to resonate when I talked about X.” The organizer is multi-tasking, thinking about the lunch buffet, worried about the keynote speaker showing up in time, will they have enough buses for the reception at the art museum, etc. - so use this moment to instill in their mind how successful your session was.
 
3. Hang with interested attendees and influencers: While you may not be a rock star in real life, leverage your time on stage into building your personal brand and relationships at the event. Walk to lunch, coffee break or reception with interested attendees and fellow speakers. Use this time to exchange ideas, business cards and build relationships with business prospects, future employers or other speakers and influencers.

4. Reply to Tweets: As soon as you have a few minutes after speaking, check the tweets about your session. Thank people for their kind words, answer any questions and retweet tweets that make key points - not just those that say how great your session was. Follow people who followed you. Tweet additional information such as where they can get a related white paper; if you will be posting your presentation somewhere; an information source that came up in Q&A, etc. Also, while at the event, make sure you tweet other speakers sessions.

5. Follow-up quickly with attendees: Several people will likely give you their business card and ask you to send them your presentation. Don’t tell them it will be posted on the organizer’s website. Use Hightail, Dropbox, SlideShare or similar services to host your presentation and email them within 24 hours a link to the presentation. Also, however, send them links to related content they may have expressed interest in and ask what else you can do for them.

6. Thank the event organizer: Send a note or email to the event organizers thanking them again for selecting you to speak and how much you appreciated the opportunity. Reaffirm the positives of your session, including any specific feedback you may have received. Ask if/when they will be sending you results from speaker feedback surveys. Provide any constructive criticism that may have made the conference even better for attendees and speakers. And assuming you like the event, plant the seed now that you’d love to speak again at a future event.

7. Update/Fix slides: While it is fresh in your mind, update your slides and fix typos or animation builds and things that just didn’t work right. After a recent presentation where I had several slides with stock photos of hamsters, an attendee emailed me telling me that one of the images was actually of a guinea pig, not a hamster. I immediately purchased a new image and fixed it. Maybe a case study example you used didn’t connect, replace it with a better one. You will be sharing the presentation online and elsewhere and likely using it, or sections of the presentation again so make any changes before you forget.

8. Debrief: Ask co-workers and others for candid feedback. I once had a co-worker tell me that I said the word “right” more than 70 times in my session. Yes, they actually counted them. Apparently, “right” had become my “um” when pausing. Did you talk to fast? Did you try to cover too much? You should have taken questions while speaking and not just wait until the end? While you might not agree with every bit of feedback, hearing objective comments is one of the only ways you will know how to improve.

9. Post the presentation on SlideShare: Make the presentation available on SlideShare so that thousands of people in your target market can see it - not just the 50 or 500 that were in your session at the event. Once posted tweet the link and use the event Twitter handle and hashtag.

10. Blog about the session: You just spoked for 50 minutes on a topic you are passionate about. Your slides are your outline for a great follow-up blog post. Reference the session as appropriate and highlight areas you want to stress or that seemed to resonate with the audience. Answer questions in the blog that came up in Q&A and were asked privately. Create additional value and conversation beyond the session itself. Embed the slides into your blog post using SlideShare.

11. Record some quick videos: You have your story down, having delivered a great presentation so pick some aspects of the presentation and record a couple of short videos and post on your company’s YouTube channel or Web site.

12. Pitch media outlets: Work with your PR team to secure media interviews or byline articles based on the presentation.

13. Deliver a Webinar: You’ve put all of that effort into those 60 slides, now is not the time to let them gather dust on your hard drive. 

14. Submit more speaker proposals: If your session went really well, then leverage those slides and effort into multiple speaking opportunities. The best public speakers who are out on the circuit promoting a book or concept, leverage the same topic and slides over and over. This approach is not just about leverage, but the more you deliver the same presentation the better it gets - creating a better experience for the audience.

What have I missed? What is on your list of things to do after you’ve delivered a presentation?
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Work
Occupation
Thought leadership on email marketing, social media
Employment
  • Silverpop | Email Marketing/Marketing Automation
    Thought leadership on email marketing, social media, present
  • Arthur Andersen
  • EmailLabs/Lyris, Inc./JL Halsey
  • USWeb/CKS
  • NetStruxr
  • Intevation
  • Amidei & Co.
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
Todd McDonald
Story
Tagline
Mocial marketing, red wine, Peet's coffee, alt rock, my girls, the backyard lifetime project
Bragging rights
Saw the Sex Pistols at Winterland in 1978. You probably didn't.
Education
  • San Francisco State University
    Broadcast Communication Arts