I was walking by city hall in San Jose, California when I saw someone setting up for a presentation on a large concrete patio outside of the main entrance. I’m not sure what the presentation was for, but judging from the set up, I’m fairly certain it was boring. Look at how far away the podium is from the rows of chairs. The audience is already floating in the middle of a concrete oasis, the poor speaker who gets stuck behind that podium might feel like the loneliest person the planet.
When you’re setting up for a presentation, a press conference, a keynote, keep in mind that people want to feel connected to each other. Audiences want to feel a part of a conversation more than they want to sit through another presentation. I watched the young man who set up this configuration. He was so focused on making sure the right VIP’s got the right seat designation that he forgot to set up for success. Keeping the audience too far away from the speaker creates an awkwardness to the energy of a presentation that is very hard to overcome.
Putting the chairs in a half-circle, or angling them so the chairs and the podium were closer would give the speaker a much easier way to begin the presentation without feeling like he or she was going to have to wave and shout to connect with the audience floating somewhere out there on a concrete island.