So you just got your last presenter up on stage before lunch – you’ve left the room to make sure the food is on time and on its way from chef. Your Social Marketing team has done a great job at getting the word out and generating late registrants. Your On-Site Event Manager is able to add the additional attendees. During the tasting weeks ago, you, your team and chef sat down and he did a marvelous job on the selection of food, even allowing for food allergies.
You now look at the foyer and Banquets has already set up buffet tables & décor for a Tex-Mex meal (a Mexican –Texas combination that few outside of Southern Texas can replicate) And it’s not the cheap décor either it’s nice stuff, it has no dust or cracks and hasn’t been used a thousand times. You come back in the ballroom and discover you’re about 10 min behind. Not terrible, but you give the go ahead to your Production Team to give the 2 min wrap up signal now. The audience anticipates the food – they see it and smell it… Its food they are going to drift. You quickly leave to check on the lunch ballroom where everyone will be seated. Seems fine, a few thing left to do- but it’s ready. You come back in the room and discover your now 20 minutes behind and that the Presenter has become the dreaded Audience Hog. They have gone off topic, squealing about stories that are irrelevant or realize they love the sound of their own voice and begin stretching out their words (trust me it happens).
Lunch will need to be short since you have a major presenter coming in and you want them to have all of his allocated time to speak, you’ve paid him a lot of moola and he is one reason everyone is attending.
Being the leader you are, you decide to take over the wrap up. You’ve signaled more than once to the presenter that time is up, and he glosses over you like you are praising him to keep going. Now you have cold food and a late start to the afternoon.
Finally you go up to the stage wait for a pause in the presentation and say, ‘well that we interesting – that’s all the time we have right now. Lunch is served we are back in at 1pm sharp.’ Everyone starts exiting the room. They have barely enough time to take a bio break, check email and eat. And now the Audience Hog is deflated because he never focused on the finish and realizes the short but awkward moment is on him.
This typically happens to less seasoned presenters and it can really mess up your day. It may not happen in this fashion but at some point you have to make up time – another presenter will need to shorten their speech – hopefully it’s a staffer or a panel discussion that you can adjust.
How can one correct it? How can you help Presenters become better? Here’s how we solve the problem… These are tools to help presenters tell their experience effectively.
1) Have them come in early – walk the stage with your presenter and production staff – point out the speaker timer, confidence monitor(s), have them go through their ppt presentation a few clicks on the slide advance and let them get use to the environment – then remind them of their time allotted and where they can view how much of it is left (do this last). It is by far the most successful diplomatic way to support presenters.
2) If they are not able to come in early i.e. flight delayed etc… then acclimate them when they get to the room. Let them know what tools are on stage and approximately where they are located. Also make sure the Production Team has enough time to load and test the Presenters presentation – just a side note.
3) If you have a true audience hog on your hands and have not been able to review with them the solutions above, you can walk to the stage at ground level near the Lectern (Yes I said it, LECTERN. A Podium is what you stand on…a Lectern is what you stand behind) Ok, walk to the Lectern, grasp your hands together at your side, and smile at the presenter. If they don’t get the hint, take steps toward them even moving in front of the stage to grab their attention if you must. Presenters will get the hint.
You ask why does one place their hands to the side rather than clutch your hand in a formal way on center? Because grasping your hands at the side (the side where the Presenter can best see) is not natural, and philologically it will trigger something is wrong just enough to pull them out of their own nirvana and realize time is up. As a last resort, have the Executive Director or another Association Member walk out on stage and help wrap up as well.
We all come across hogs, but if you consider preparing your Presenters, and creating boundaries before the event begins, you can help you and your team out immensely. Make sure your Production Company is also on-board with this as well. If you have a known hog on your hands, you can also start your speaker timer just a little early. Best Regards.