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Setting a Time and Place

Q1:Do you have any advice for the best time and place to conduct a presentation?
Usually, a presentation happens as part of a meeting, seminar, or other type of planned event. Regardless of the size of the group, you have to consider the location and the calendar when planning the event. The bottom line is to develop a plan that captures your audience when they are most attentive. You can do this by conducting the event at the right location, on the right day of the week, and at the right time of day.

Regarding location, you should try to find a spot that contains the fewest distractions. This usually is offsite (not in your building). Most people, if close enough to their desks, will find opportunities to do a few work-related tasks and before they know it, the presentation is over. If you want the full attention of a group, keep them away from their desks by holding the event at a neutral spot (hotel or conference center) that is an easy drive but too far away to walk. You don't want people sneaking back to their desks at each break.

For timing, you should consider the best day of the work week for getting the most people to attend. Having conducted over 1,000 seminars, I can tell you that Tuesday is best, followed in order by Thursday, Wednesday, Friday, and, finally, Monday. I have met other presenters who agree with the order. If Tuesday is open for your next meeting, chances are more people will be available than on Monday. Check it out in your own environment and see if it's true for you.

Finally, consider the time of day. Early morning, between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., seems to be the best time of day for getting the longest attention span from a group. One hour after lunch is the worst time of day because people are digesting. When you digest food, the blood goes from your head to your stomach, your eyes get heavier, and before you know it you doze off. The morning is better than the afternoon. In fact, in a sales presentation when your competitors are presenting on the same day, try to go first. Some say the last presentation is the only one remembered. In reality, it's the one the audience hopes will end most quickly. If you go first, you have the most attention from the group, and you become the tough act to follow.

Incorporating Music and Video

Q1:If I want to use music or video in my presentations, do I need to be concerned with copyrights?
Copyrights protect intellectual properties. The rule I live by is simple: When in doubt, ask permission. However, you can use certain multimedia elements without infringing on someone's rights. For example, let's say you want to buy a CD-ROM that contained a collection of instrumental musical selections. If the CD packaging contains a statement such as “royalty-free” or “unlimited use,” it doesn't mean there is no copyright. It means that you can probably use the selections in your presentations, and you won't have to pay a fee each time you use a clip. On the other hand, it doesn't mean you can repackage the selections on a new CD and sell it.

I have been at tradeshows, for example, where the movie Top Gun (with Tom Cruise) was playing in someone's booth. Without permission, this would be an illegal use of the movie, especially because it is being used in a selling process. The movie is entertaining, and the value of that entertainment brings people into the booth, at which point sales opportunities arise. Thus, the playing of the movie increases the prospects. The selling process is enhanced through the use of an intellectual property (the movie) with no payment (royalty) made to the property owner. A phone call to the copyright holder of the movie may be all that is needed to get permission to play the movie for one tradeshow without infringing on the copyright.

The same applies to popular music. If you want to play some songs from a CD during your presentation, perhaps as background filler while the audience is arriving, you should get permission to use the material.

Surely any point of law can be argued and interpreted in different ways. I have a lecture called “Multimedia vs. Multimania” in which I use several popular music tracks from different CDs. To be safe, I received permission from the copyright holders, and I even run credits at the end of the lecture to acknowledge the owners of the material. I suggest you research any use of copyrighted material and get permission, in writing if possible, to reduce the chances of a lawsuit.



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