Presentation Set-Up Guidelines

The following information provides guidelines regarding the set-up needs I have when doing a keynote or other training program. These guidelines are based on my experience regarding the kind of environment that facilitates ease of presentation and the audiences' greatest level of engagement. If lyou have any questions about the details, we'd be happy to clarify further. If you take a copy of these guidelines to the conference or workshop or email the link to the people on-site who are doing set-up, it can help things run smoothly. Thank you in advance for your attention to creating a room arrangement that will enhance the program. —Sharon Strand Ellison

For the Speaker:

Basics: A pitcher of ice water—and a glass, of course!

Microphone: I strongly prefer a or a hand-held cordless microphone (or a head-set ) because (1) I like the sound quality and consistency and (2) I often like to go out into the group/audience. It it's not possible to have a hand-held microphone or head set, I'd like to have a hand-held microphone with a cord that is long enough to reach at least half-way down the aisle into the audience. I prefer not to use a lavalier microphone.

For workshops, depending on the size of the room and number of participants, I might or might not need a microphone. However, in many rooms, even with 50 people and up, (sometimes fewer if the room is oversized or acoustics are not good) I find it works better to have one. It helps me not to strain my voice and is also helpful for people with any hearing limitations.

Platform: In cases where a raised platform is needed, I prefer to have a one with stairs in the front, instead of the side, so I can walk out into the audience easily if I want to.

Podium: I don't need one, even for large conferences, as I do not ever stand behind a podium.

Power Point Projector: If I need one, wel'll let you know ahead of time.

Room Arrangement:

Conferences: If the presentation is a keynote where people are sitting either at tables or in rows of chairs, there are no special set-up requirements.

Workshop Tables: If a training program is 3 hours or longer, I prefer it if there are tables so people can be comfortable, have water or coffee/tea and take notes. I like to have some open space in the front so I have room to do role-plays with group members. If the workshop is small enough ( 50 or fewer people) and it is feasible, I find it works very well to have the tables arranged in a three-sided fashion with open space in the middle and front. If the tables are rectangular, they can be arranged in a U shape. If the tables are round, I've found it can work well to put them in a semi-circle, with as many of the chairs as possible around the back of each table, so people can see each other and I can role-play and/or speak to individual people from the center of the circle. I'd like to have a small table, if one is available, in the front for my water and workbook, and a chair, as I will sit part of the time. Sometimes a rectangular table can be used by pushing part of it to the side so it doesn't close the space in front.

Board Room Tables: Even for executive training programs, I prefer not to do a training in a board room. Often there is little space around the table and it is harder to do role-plays and mat work to demonstrate the concepts.

Chairs: If the group is small enough, I prefer one or more rows put into a semi-circle. If it is a larger group, then rows of chairs with an isle in the middle is fine. Even then, if there can be a slight curve to the rows so people can see each other more easily, I prefer that.

Number of chairs: i'd appreciate it if there are not more chairs in the room than the maximum number of attendees expected for the session. If extra chairs cannot be folded or removed, it can work to use a cord or ribbon to to block off the back rows.

Table for Books & CDs:

Conferences: Of course, many times tables are assigned and there is no choice about location. In cases where I have a choice about location, I prefer it to be near where people gather for conversation between sessions, rather than in the room I'm presenting in.


If I've been invited to bring books and CDs to sell, and the training program will be contained in one room, then I prefer to have the table inside that room, so people can access it easily during breaks to ask me questions or look at the materials. If the refreshments will be served in another room, then I prefer to have the table in that room since people will be there during most of the breaks.

Set-Up for Credit Card Machine: I have a wireless credit card machine, which works anywhere in the United States where there is a Sprint Tower—which is almost everywhere. In Canada, and some locations in the US, if the machine cannot operate on wireless, then I have to be able to plug the machine into a regular phone jack. If your organizers can give us the contact information for the appropriate on-site tech person, we can get information about options and make the arrangements we need ahead of time.

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Set-Up Guidelines:

For the Speaker

Room Arrangement

Table for Books & CDs







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