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48. Public Speaking Basics: 3 Steps to Above Average Public Speaking: 9. Basic skills to master: Par

Last week we covered the acronym CHESS and covered some basic skills from an attitudes perspective.

We looked at being Confident, Happy, Empathetic, Sincere and having a Sense of Humour.

Today, we continue with the 3rd set of skills to master, using the same acronym.

For the Materials Basics, CHESS stands for:

C - Computer

H - Handouts

E - Equipment

S - Stage

S - Sitting arrangements


For most public speaking engagements, you may need a computer or laptop or notebook to put in your presentation materials to be projected to the audience.

If your event organiser or location has their own computers, you can just bring along a pendrive or USB drive with your presentation material on it to be transferred.

However, you will need to test the material to ensure that the program used in the host computer is compatible with your material. If not there will be problems showing your material, either the material cannot be played at all, or certain formatting, animations etc on your material that cannot be played by the host.

To prevent this problem you should also always bring your own laptop or notebook computer along, to replace the host computer if there are compatibility issues.

To bring your own computer means you also need to ensure compatibility between your computer with the projecting device being used by the host.

That means you need to ensure you have with you any VGA, HDMI, USB, etc connectors that can connect between your computer with the host equipment.

It pays to be prepared, thoroughly.


Do you have notes that require distribution to your audience? If yes, you can either print them your self and bring them along, or email a pdf copy to your host for them to print and distribute to their participants before or after your presentation.


Other than the computer, there may be other items you need to bring, or at least ensure that they are available to assist with your presentation.

Audio equipment can usually be arranged by your host, you'll need to ensure that they work well with your material before the actual event.

Other equipment that you may want to have on hand can be:

  • Presentation pointer and clicker: Helps you point to the presentation and also move your slides along without you having to be rooted next to the computer throughout your presentation

  • Bottle of water: To keep you hydrated especially when you have a sore throat, cough, or need time to compose yourself

  • Any other props: Whatever you need to enhance and bring out the message, you will need to ensure you bring along with you.


The location you will be performing on. Do you know where you will be moving up from? Where you will be standing? Will everyone be able to see you? Hear you clearly?

Will you be given a podium / rostrum to use? Do you need a microphone? A wired one? A cordless one? A clip on? One that is clipped to you face?

I recommend that whenever possible, visit the stage that you will be using, get a feel of it, walk around, see how you will view the audience, imagine how they will view you. If you have certain antics prepared, check to see they can be done effectively on the stage. If your venue is a distance from where you are and an earlier visit is not possible, try to at least get your host to send you a few photos of the stage and the areas surrounding it.

Sitting arrangements

Now that you have set up where you will be as a presenter, let us take a look at where your audience will be sitting. Does your presentation require them to be any special groups? How big is the audience? If it is huge, it will usually be in the form of a theater sitting style. However, if the participants number less than 100, you may have the flexibility of arranging them into groups of 8-10 per one round table. Tables are good for discussions and workshops where the participants are not just passively soaking in content, but are engaged throughout the presentation in discussions, games, etc.


These areas may seem trivial to some and outright basic to others, but I recommend getting these areas right at all times. As they say, if they are so basic, we should not be getting them wrong. Also, if the foundation is weak, how can your powerful presentation stand up throughout your whole talk?

Get these right and you will be on your way to above average public speaking.

See you next week!

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