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Speakers Bureau Presentation to Jacksonville Garden Club Part I Soil Biology by Susan Koenig

During Susan Koenig’s Soil Biology Part 1 presentation to the Jacksonville Garden Club on Thursday, September 15th, there was a bit of scurrying about to get the audio-visual situation set up so that it worked for Susan. I want to mention to speakers and potential future speakers that you must know what your needs are in advance of your presentation. Make sure the venue you are in can accommodate your specific needs. At least know what you need to make your presentation work in their space. That is crucial to your success and your ability to deliver the information you have prepared for your audience comfortably and without undue anxiety for yourself.

I thought when we heard that her presentation would be given in the Jacksonville City Hall Council Chambers that the venue would have everything she would need. It did, but the configuration was totally backwards. The podium with sound and a placement area for a computer on the podium faced in a direction that had Susan not facing the audience. Fortunately, there were some cardboard boxes available. Susan grabbed them, stacked them appropriately, and oriented them in the direction she would face. She made the space work for her. She asked the audience to move to one side of the huge room which had ceilings so high it would make the moon envious.

Another thing was that the 48” TV screen that her presentation would be projected on was very high up at the far end of the room so that the printing on the slides was not readable although, the pictures were okay. If you are using PowerPoint or a similar program, be aware of the font size that you must use to make sure people can read it.

Susan did just fine, reading what the slide said and then giving them the information she wanted to pass along. I saw many very engaged people in the attendance scribbling like crazy to record the information.

When Susan wrapped up, she was right at the time limit for her presentation. Because of the time spent with boxes and reorienting her position to face her audience, there was no time left for Q & A. Her audience was not finished; they paid no attention to the clock and started their questions. Fifteen minutes later, Susan wrapped it up and received very hardy applause.

Susan is a seasoned speaker and turned that potential conundrum into a real success. The following day, this note from Heidi Elliot, the Jackson Garden Club Vice President arrived in our email.

Hi! It was so nice to meet you both today. The feedback I’m getting is wonderful. It seems everyone loved your presentation. Including me!!

I had several people tell me how pleased they were to learn new things that can be so helpful to us wanna-be Master Gardeners!

I hope you will consider joining us again with further knowledge in the future!

Many thanks,

There were lessons learned today by me, Susan, and Janine, one of our new speakers, who came to observe one of our Master Gardeners in action. I know that I will ask a lot more questions when receiving a request. I am sure any of the speakers going to present someplace they have never gone to before will also make sure they know the availability of equipment, the layout of the room, etc. Thanks, Susan, for turning this into a learning moment.

We will certainly go back. It was a very warm and friendly group obviously very interested in learning more from Master Gardeners. Heidi said she would send out a questionnaire and ask what subjects her club members are interested in. JCMGA might be able to provide some of them. We do have Lynn Kunstman scheduled for Native Plants on October 20th and John Kobal in 2023. The Club meets at the Jacksonville City Hall.

We have some new speakers and if any of them would like to share their ideas with the Jacksonville Garden Club, let me know. Heidi and I did speak about the situation Susan encountered and she will address this with the City Hall IT person and see what can be done so that the garden club presenter does not have to deal with this issue in the future. They meet every 3rd Thursday from 12:30 to 2:00 through June 2023.