Your public speaking presentation starts with good preparation – Know your environment

Preparation is integral to your public speaking presentation.

When I was young I rode horses. “Walking the course” is an important part of any show jumping competition. It’s the time when as a rider, you enter the arena on foot (without your horse) and walk around the course, taking everything in through your eyes and imagining how it may look through your horse’s eyes.  Walking the course includes striding out how you will ride that course.

Walk the Course

Preparation for your public speaking presentation is similar. As a speaker, it’s good practice to walk the course, to see things through your eyes as well as through your audience’s eyes. Be comfortable and familiar with your space and be aware of any possible distractions.

Public Speaking Presentation Preparation Walk the Course

Check out the speaking space

So you have done your homework and have found out about your audience and you are all set with your content. Don’t forget to check out the venue and space where you will deliver your speech. 

It allows you to be fully comfortable with where you will be physically when you are presenting and how you will use the stage and space.

By taking the time to stand in the space without an audience, you can become familiar with your speaking area so you can use it effectively and move with confidence and ease.

It is useful for you to experience the space as your audience will experience it. What are the sights and sounds that the audience may experience? Are there noisy fridges or air conditioners? Is there a pole or pillar in the room that will block someone’s view? Are the chairs comfortable? Go and sit in the empty chairs, try the front row and then sit to the back.

Take it all in

Take some time to think about what you see, hear and feel. There may be some things about the venue that you are not able to change before your public speaking presentation. Don’t let that rattle you, change what you can and mitigate the risks for the remaining.

Here are some of the things I look for: 

  • Where are the exits and entry points? Don’t be distracted by people coming or going. If you know where the exits are then you won’t be surprised if there is movement in that area.
  • What is the floor covering like – wood, tiles or carpet? Bring along some whisper quiet shoes in case there is no carpeting.
  • Where will you sit before and after your presentation, will you be backstage or in the audience? Make sure you can easily get back to your seat.

Walk the course wherever possible before any public speaking presentation. When you know your environment it allows you to feel more prepared and confident – ready to step out and deliver.

A large part of success in public speaking is the commitment to planning and practice.


As a storytelling expert, known as The Story Midwife, I help leaders to create compelling presentations through business storytelling.

Before becoming a Professional Speaker, I worked for over twenty years as a midwife.

I now live and breathe stories as a speaker, trainer, performer and coach.

As a World Class Speaking & Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver a captivating story for your business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, podium or stage; I can show you how to develop a persuasive presentation with a compelling story that will be hard to forget by anyone who gets to experience it.

If you would like to find out about training for your team, I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me lisa@speakingsavvy.com.au or call +61 (0)438 902042.