CANHi.  Winnie Griggs here, with the next installment in my posts about speaking engagements.  So far we’ve covered why book speaking engagements, dealing with butterflies  selecting a topic, creating a speaker resume, finding speaking venues and pitching your program.  Today we’re going to talk about understanding and meeting expectations.

Understanding the expectations surrounding you and your presentation is a key factor in pulling off a successful speaking engagement.  There are two kinds of expectations you need to understand and manage – facilitator expectations and audience expectations.

Let’s look at them one at a time


Understand your facilitator’s expectations

Some basic information you’ll need/want to know:

  • How long is your allotted time on the agenda
  • Is there a particular overall theme for the event you should tie into
  • Are there any expectations about delivery style ( interactive with exercises, Q&A roundtable, straight lecture, etc)
  • How many people are expected to attend – you want to make certain
    a) you have enough handouts and
    b) you know whether to expect an intimate feel or a classroom-type setting
  • Do you need to be available for any activities outside of your allotted time
  • Is there either a stated or understood dress code for the event
  • What type of presentation has this group responded to well in the past
  • Are there specific aspects of this topic the facilitator is particularly interested in having you cover
  • What options do you have for visual aids
  • If you have books that you wish to make available, will there be a bookseller with copies on hand or will you need to provide the books?  Will there be someone on hand to assist you with this
  • You’ll also want to clarify any issues around speaker fees or cost reimbursement

Understand your audience expectations

In addition to understanding the coordinator’s expectations, you’ll want to find out as much about your audience as possible.

  • Is the group expecting an informal chat, an interactive, hands on workshop or a more formal presentation
  • What is the audience’s interest in/experience with your topic – that is, are they looking to be entertained, inspired or taught
  • If this is a teaching activity, does the audience already have some working knowledge of your topic or are they present to learn the basics

Understand your working environment

One other thing you’ll want to factor into your planning is an understanding of what your stage will be like.

  • What sort of facility will this be held in:  public/open area, classroom, conference room, auditorium, etc
  • Will you be expected to stand or sit
  • If a microphone is present will it be fixed or movable
  • Will you have a podium, a table to display any props you may want to use
  • Are there options for the lighting (dimmers, sectional controls, etc)
  • Will you have a moderator/helper or will you be on your own

 Of course all three of these checklist are just starting points for you.  I’m sure there are other bullet points that could be added – if you think of any, please share!

Next moth we’ll talk a bit about Research.

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