This Two Tip Tuesday is inspired by a Broadway show you may have heard of: Hamilton. For some reason (avoiding writing), I was looking through the Hamilton song list. (add to your distraction list here – Then I started singing the Hamilton songs to myself. Next, I put on the soundtrack, re-enacted most of the show and 3 hours later came back to the computer with no idea what I was supposed to be doing. Oh right. Writing. 


In the end, I decided to pick two song titles from the soundtrack for today’s Two Tip Tuesday:

Tuesday Tip #1: The Room Where It Happens

Whenever possible check out the room where it happens. Before it happens. 

Build a visit to that room into your prep schedule for whatever you’ve got coming up: an interview, a pitch, a PowerPoint presentation, a Ted talk, a leadership meeting, a thought panel, a department meeting or a brainstorm session you’re running.

Take the time to do a Site Survey. Get a feel for the room. Know what Tech is available. Look around. How do the lights feel to you? Is the AV right? Easy to set up? All the cords there? If there are cameras, where are they? If it’s a studio, is it freezing? Is it hot? Crowded? Enormous? Tiny?

Get there. Look around. Make it familiar. As familiar as you can, with whatever time you have.  If you can’t get there, ask for descriptions, pictures, any information you can.

If you can only get to the room a few minutes before you’re in front of your audience, then have a brief ‘must know’ checklist of before you begin. What can you control? What can’t you?  Adjust what you can.  Ignore what you can’t.

Take ownership of your time and your presentation. Not just when you’re in front of people but in the preparation beforehand.

If the room isn’t right and ready, one major takeaway for your audience will be ‘why didn’t you get that done ahead of time?’ 

Don’t blame the facilities team, the audience, your guests, a show producer, or a malicious nemesis (unless you KNOW it was your nemesis, then use your presentation for dramatic effect: It was Professor Purple in the conference room with the HDMI cable!)

You don’t want to be in front of your audience while you’re struggling how the room works. Period. 

The room should be ‘yours,’ so the audience can feel inspired, comfortable, intrigued and blown away by how amazing you are.

TL,DR: When you are doing any type of performance or presentation in front of an audience, spend some conscious time getting to know your room. It’ll improve your comfort, your confidence and in the end your impact.

Tuesday Tip #2: Washington on Your Side

You’ve probably heard the advice: “Imagine the audience in their underwear or naked.”  It’s been around a while.  As a strategy to calm nerves, it has never made sense to me.

A naked audience. Would. Be. Very. Distracting.  So many questions.

If everyone in here is naked, then why am I up here wearing clothes?

I prefer strategies that are empowering, not distracting.

In Hamilton, Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson sing, ‘It must be nice to have Washington on your side,’ about Alexander Hamilton. At the time, Hamilton has President George Washington as an ally. Which means he has the support of the single most important ally in the country.  Period.  President George Washington has Hamilton’s back, so it’s pretty sweet for Hamilton. Pretty. Sweet.

So let me be your Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr. 

Let me be your Jefferson and Burr and tell you: You have Washington on your side. 

You have the most important ally there is: The audience.

It may feel otherwise, but the truth is the audience is rooting for your success. They are not rooting for your failure. At all. Especially in-person. (We’re not talking political punditry here. That’s a different discussion.)

Here, we’re talking about the common audience and group interactions we encounter. If it’s a team meeting, the team wants it to go well.  If it’s your leadership group, they REALLY WANT IT TO GO EXCEPTIONALLY WELL. Sales? Great. Product Launch? Tell us more amazing things about your amazing stuff in amazing ways. Pitching ideas for product promotions? YES PLEASE, BE FANTASTIC.

So, don’t picture the audience without clothes. Picture them without animosity.

Picture them as your biggest fans. Your allies. Picture them as your Washington. Or whichever President you want to root for you and have your back. When you characterize your audience as your ally, you will deliver a message to friends. You will not throw away your shot.

TL,DR: In most interactions with an audience, they are your allies and fans. They have a vested interest in it all going well, especially in-person.  So treat them like friends and allies. Treat them as if they were George Washington and you were Alexander Hamilton.

A little reminder that if you tell the story that matters to you, you have no idea where it can lead and who it can inspire. Ron Chernow: Hamilton on Broadway from Mount Vernon on Vimeo.