Now this is pretty standard in most of the halls I have presented in. And…standing behind a demi-redwood is one of the best ways I know to create distance and lack of connection with an audience. It’s very challenging to engage and demo and do my physical schtick to keep the audience energy up.
So I had it hauled away. That meant I had to ask a nice volunteer in an orange t-shirt to see if they could find someone in media to move it. Doing that meant that I had to resist being accommodating and the fear of appearing to “make a fuss.” And that is a critical part of what I think a successful presenter does: If the room doesn’t work for you, find a way to fix it if you can. You don’t have to throw a hissy fit – just ask. Maybe they can fix it, maybe they can’t. But at least you tried. Just look at all the real estate removing that podium gave me to play in!
I had a similar challenge in Tucson where I lead a workshop in January. We were in a windowless hotel seminar room for 7 hours and participants were getting tired and fidgety before we had finished the curriculum. Jet lag wasn’t helping. Luckily there was a huge terrace outside the room so instead of bringing Mohammed to the mountains, I brought the mountains to Mohammed, so to speak.
Changing the scenery gave a huge energy boost to the group and got us through the remainder of the day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could always swap large tree-like podiums for mountain views in our seminar rooms!