Monday, March 5, 2018

Getting Out From Behind the Podium

My association's Annual Conference was last week, and among the things that means for me is making a presentation to the assembled membership on what the association has been doing over the past year.

It's not the first time I've done this. Indeed, with two major conferences a year, by my count this was at least the twentieth time I've spoken from the stage at one of my association's conferences. But there was something different about this time. For the first time in all those appearances, I did not stand behind a podium to deliver my message. Like so many of the professional speakers that we hire for our programs, I walked the stage and tried to make a more visible connection with my audience.

From my point of view, it went pretty well. My confidence was greatly supported by a simple trick of technology. Rather than having my presentation script printed in big type on the podium, I used Presenter View in PowerPoint to display my presentation slides on the big screen behind me and to display my speaker notes on the large confidence monitor we usually have at the foot of the stage. With the help of a co-conspirator scrolling down as I delivered the talk, it served as a kind of poor man's teleprompter. It allowed me both to maintain a connection with my audience and glance down when needed to keep my place in the script.

What surprised me most about the experience was not how much better I did or didn't do, but how much more comfortable I felt. When giving a presentation like this, the most frequent thing I usually have to tell myself is to slow down. I tend to gallop through a presentation; so much so that the printed scripts I used to put on the podium typically have the directive to S L O W   D O W N hand written across to top of every page.

But this time, even without those written reminders, I felt more at ease, more aware of my surroundings, more in command of my own pacing and delivery. I emphasized the things I wanted to emphasize. I calmly ad-libbed when my co-conspirator once fell behind on advancing the notes for me. I even paused in the right places for dramatic effect. And based on some of the feedback I received after the presentation, the improvements were noticed and appreciated.

It was almost like the podium, once seen as an anchor worth hanging on to, had actually been dragging me away from my objective. It had literally been standing between me and my audience, its presence more of a hindrance than a help.

+ + +

This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

Image Source

No comments:

Post a Comment