BY ALAN ZIMMERMAN, PHD, CSP, CPAE
Improve your impact
with the right room
ALAN ZIMMERMAN, PHD, CSP, CPAE,
works with organizations to transform the people
part of their business by focusing on attitude,
communication, and leadership strategies.
You’re an expert. You got the gig. You know your material. You know your audience. And you’re well-rehearsed.
You’re ready to go out there and give a fantastic
presentation that gets rave reviews.
Or are you?
In my 30 years of speaking, I find that
speakers prepare for just about everything
except the room setup. Not smart.
The wrong room setup makes a great
speaker look less impressive and decreases the
impact of his or her message. The right
room setup enhances a speaker’s perfor-
mance and the audience’s receptivity.
And you know from experience that you
do better in some setups than others.
The problem is, the hotel doesn’t
know that. The audience doesn’t know
that. And even your meeting planner
may not know that. So you have to
manage the room arrangements, rather
than leave them to chance.
TAKE CONTROL WITH
THESE FOUR STEPS:
o REFLECT: Think about the various
rooms where you have spoken. Think
about the rooms where you felt at
ease, on fire, and in touch with your
audience. And think about the room
setups that didn’t feel quite right to
you, and as a result, you were a tad off
when you spoke.
o LIST: Make a list of all the things
that you really like in a room setup,
things that help you and your presentation come across especially well.
For example, I like my audience to sit
close to one another and close to me. I
ask the meeting planner to provide 10
percent fewer seats than the number
of expected attendees. Figure out the
five to 10 things you really want to see
in your room setup, and ask for them.
o SEND: Provide your meeting planner a diagram of your preferred room
setup that reflects your insights from
the two points above. It eliminates
misunderstandings. To make your
job easier, I’ve created nine different
diagrams that you can use for that
purpose. See “You're All Set!” above
to learn how to download them.
o REARRANGE: Before you get to
your venue, check with the meeting
planner to see if any other groups
are using that room to determine
timing and flexibility for rearranging.
Then, get to your meeting room far
in advance of your start time, so you
can make any needed changes in the
And just like that, you’re set up for
greater speaking success. ■
YOU’RE ALL SET!
Alan created nine di;erent room
setup diagrams you can use as a
starting point. Download them at