If you are presenting in a familiar setting (for example, within your own organization) the room and its layout will be familiar. However, you may be presenting at a location that you have never seen before – the boardroom of a host organization, a hotel suite, or an exhibition, for instance. Where this is the case it is important to plan your arrival at the venue well ahead of time.
Whether the presentation venue is known to you or not, there are key questions you need to ask the person organizing the event to ensure that you are properly prepared for the task and understand how to maximize the influence of the venue. It is always advisable to visit the venue’s website prior to your call as this may prompt more detailed questions, such as:
• How easy is the venue to get to by car, rail, or air?
• Does the image of the venue match / suit your audience?
• With regard to the room:
o What is its capacity?
o What floor plan options are available?
o What presentation facilities are available?
o Where are electric sockets?
o Will you need extensions for your electric cables/wires?
o Do you have control over the lighting and heating of the room?
• What types of events are going on in adjacent rooms at that time?
The venue will set the mood for your presentation. An informal gathering in a small cheerful office will create a very different mood to a large conference room in a hotel. There are logistics involved when traveling to a remote location that you need to think carefully about and plan for – for example, organizing any travel tickets, pre-event accommodation, any specialist equipment, support materials, appropriate clothes, etc.
When presenting at an external location you should try to pre-arrange access to the room in which you will be presenting. Even if it is being used immediately before your slot you could try and gain access to this event, as it is important to familiarize yourself with the surroundings. If you are unable to get there early, then you should contact the venue in advance and request a copy of the floor plan, and ask if any specific seating plan has been requested for that day. If it is your own event you can ask what seating arrangement options they offer and select the one most suited to your presentation aim and the size of your audience. It is often wise to ask what events are going on in the adjacent rooms so that you know the atmosphere will be appropriate to your needs. You don’t want to find your room is next to a party when you are giving a business presentation! Always build in some contingency as a safety factor to allow for any unforeseen travel, accommodation, or venue problems.