Stage Fright

11 Sep


Thankfully,  The shameless and self promoting political conventions are over.

I watched some bits during the commercials of my fave reality programming and was intrigued by the flow of the production. Speaker, music, speaker, music etc.

One stage.

Do you ever wonder what goes on backstage during a performance –  whether it is a speech, concert or a fundraising event?

Me Me ME!! I do!

Speaking from a stage to your donors, walkers or volunteers is usually a one-shot-to-impress deal.

Sponsors, survivors, leadership staff, clergy and dignitaries may be asked to get up to the podium to speak on behalf of your organization and share all the great things you do.

Hopefully, they are scripted, have directions to the venue and you have provided the important messaging (call to action!) and talk points they are to share.

You have a finite amount of time to educate and motivate your constituents.


When organizing a stage program, I always assigned a staff person to each speaker to act as their shadow, or handler.  I like to make my speakers feel like a VIP!

This shadow makes sure that they know where they are sitting, when they are speaking, who is speaking before them, who is managing the stage, and most important – an escort to the restroom 20 minutes before they need to speak. I want my speaker to be empty and in queue near the stage 10-15 minutes before they go up. The shadow is to make sure all the above happens in a timely manner. Stage programs need to be a well-oiled machine.

Need water? Here is a 4oz cup to wet your whistle.

Drinking a venti delight? Take it away – unless they are wearing a catheter.

Most savvy podium-peeps will tell you the three B’s when asked to speak are:

1. Be gracious

2. Be brief

3. Be seated

As an event manager, my three Bs for preparing a stage program are:

1. Be rehearsed

2. Be EARLY. (Ask me to tell you the story about the media MC that showed up to the wrong hotel ballroom!)

3. Be rehearsed!

Just in case my speakers were not comfortable with their speech and started to stumble, I always taped some talk points to the podium, or floor for them to read in a pinch:

Event Date

Event Goals



Oh, and don’t forget to put a sign on the front of the podium (or stage, or microphone) for the photo-opps!

Most type-A control freaks like me get anxious thinking about all the moving parts of a stage presentation to my constituents.

There are things you can control, and thing you cannot – like Mutha Nature.

You can always BE prepared!

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