How to Be A Great Guest Speaker, Part 2

Get 5 more tips to make sure you aren’t that guest speaker who is remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #104

Guest Speaking Tip #7: Know How To Use Your Technology

Never let your audience see anything on your computer other than the slides or other information you intended for them to see.

Be sure you practice setting up the technology you will be using. Practice hooking up all the cords and cables and know how long that will take you. Know how to set up the software so that you can view your slide notes and the audience ONLY sees the slides. Know how to easily blacken the screen during your presentation when the slides are not needed (in PowerPoint, simply press B to blacken the screen, and then any other key to bring the slide back up).

Do you have something new with you? In front of your audience is not the place to learn how to use your new presentation remote. Be sure to test the lights and microphone levels ahead of time to be sure they are set as you want them. If you are automatically tweeting during the presentation, run through a few sample slides to be sure the auto tweeting is functioning properly. If tweeting is important, have a back-up plan.

Guest Speaking Tip #8: Plan For The Technology To Fail

Plan for the technology to fail. Always have hard-copies of your notes and the slides, just in case. Save your talk as a presentation file (PowerPoint or Keynote) and as a PDF. Store the files on your computer and on a USB drive. (Yes, it’s like wearing a belt with suspenders. Twice. And I’m okay with that.)

Guest Speaking Tip #9: Keep Some Things a Secret

Never let your audience see anything on your computer other than the slides or other information you intended for them to see. If possible, run through your slides before any audience members arrive. Sometimes you will find that the slides don’t project correctly or there is another unexpected issue. If you run through them early enough, it should give you time to make the correction without anyone seeing. At a minimum, be sure the audience doesn’t see you booting up your computer, opening your file and putting it in presentation mode.

Keep the projector screen blank until you have your opening slide up and ready to go. And never be that speaker who preps her presentation in full view of the whole room while someone else is still speaking; both Barbara (who came up with the idea for this series) and I find this terribly rude to the other speaker.

Guest Speaking Tip #10: Turn Off Everything But What You Need

Turn off everything but what you need. Turn off your screen saver, turn off power save, and turn off all other applications except for what you will be using. I once accidentally left Skype on during a presentation. My husband popped in to ask me question, which popped up on the screen for over 250 to see! How embarrassing! Trust me, I never did that again!! Oh and don’t forget to turn off your own cell phone! (Yep, I forgot that once too!)

So there you have it: five more of the 17 quick and dirty tips to be a great guest speaker. Check out the next episode for even more tips on being a great guest speaker. As I mentioned last time, I started a discussion on my Facebook Page about this topic.

This is The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.


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If you have a question, send email to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com. For information about keynote speeches or workshops, visit lisabmarshall.com.

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About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.