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         A few months back I talked about putting together a great speaker program. There is a lot of material in that topic and for this Monthly Memo I zero in on how to manage the podium at an event. If ever you are called upon to play a part in a banquet or fundraiser keep these tips handy:

Have a Clear Plan! Most events tumble off the tracks when the program doesn’t make a lot of sense or isn’t easy to follow for audience members. Long, boring speeches from the front send people scrambling for the exits! Keep it crisp, with a mix of talk and video and plenty of rehearsal to make sure each section goes off without a hitch. And to that point…

Never let the audience get back to their conversation! It’s amazing how quickly the room gets very noisy if you let a few seconds of unintended silence occur at the podium. If you aren’t showing the audience you have your act together they’ll think it is okay to get back to talking with their dinner partners – and you’ll be in a struggle to get the room back under control. And how about at the start of the program – how can you get their attention? Call for a moment of silence or offer a prayer. Everyone will quiet down, and then you launch into your program!

Use volume to your advantage! Too often people don’t realize the tool they have right in front of them to help with audience control or attention getting! Learn how to project your voice when necessary. A louder, more energized voice will grab the attention of the audience and get them to quiet down. Use the microphone to its full advantage or find someone who can!

Always keep the next speaker nearby! Never introduce the next person on the program and then have them walk from way in the back of the room. If the person is next at the podium, have them standing just off stage and ready to jump in by the time the applause dies down.

Never let the sponsors take over the show! While acknowledging sponsors and supporters is part of most any event, be careful. If the audience feels this is just one big commercial they will lose interest and feel your event has been cheapened. Thank those who need thanking, but keep it within reason.

At every event I attend I’m looking for what works and what doesn’t. You should do the same. Learn from the best, discard the rest! Good causes deserve well-run events, equaling the effort put in during the rest of the year and hopefully building on the energy for that cause. Show the audience you respect their time and put together an event with them in mind!