We're currently working with our speakers for the upcoming next TEDxStuttgart. With some speakers, we are still working on their talks. With others, we are already in the rehearsal stage. Many have come up with ideas for audience interaction or props they want to bring to the stage. It always breaks my heart a little when they come up with a great idea and I have to tell them that, unfortunately, it won't work because we're in a different venue this year.
You may be working hard on the content and delivery of your talk, but you should never forget the context. This can be something as simple as the date and time: Is there some specific event happening at or around the day of your talk that's relevant to it? Are you going to present in the dreaded 2pm slot, when your audience is probably a bit sleepy and may need some extra energy to make it through the talk?
The physical aspects of the stage and the room are also something that you should take into account. Are you going to stand in front of your slides or to the right or left of them? Or maybe they are in an entirely different place, like above your head or mirrored on 3 screens; these are things you need to know when you want to point something out on your slides.
Coming back to props and audience interaction: Are you standing on a stage? Then some forms of audience interaction will be more awkward than others - or even impossible. How is the audience seated? In rows or around tables? Again, this is something that can have a direct impact on your presentation.
I strongly recommend checking these things with the organisers in advance. Mention to them when you plan to do something "unusual" (and, alas, audience interaction and props are often considered unusual). In some cases, you may be able to have the room (re-)arranged so that your ideas can be put into practice, provided you give advance notice.
There's nothing worse than arriving at a venue with a great idea in mind only to discover that it won't work in this specific environment. So don't forget to check for these things in advance!
(Photo from TEDxStuttgart by Michael M. Roth, MicialMedia)
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