Dashing into the site of your presentation 15 minutes before you’re scheduled to go on is NEVER a good idea. You look flustered, out of place, unsettled, etc. You’ve not given yourself time to get acclimated to your surroundings or (more importantly) your audience and it shows. Does the technology work? What does the room look like? What does being on the stage feel like? What do you look like from the audience? Speaking of the audience; who are they? How many are they? What frame of mind are they in? You know the answers to exactly none of these things if you’re blasting into your presentation minutes before you’re scheduled to speak. Talk about starting off on the wrong foot.
You should arrive to the site of your presentation at least 30 minutes early. Stand where you’ll be standing to present. If you’ll be using a microphone, test it out. Sit in a few different spots around the room to get a feel for what the audience will be seeing.
If you are one of many speakers at a conference, I suggest arriving about 2 hours early, if not the night before. Why? because a speaker scheduled to present before you may not show, or may go shorter than expected. He or she may touch on something related to your presentation, or may (heaven forbid) talk about something you’d planned on addressing.
If you are a nervous speaker, getting there early will help you tremendously. Greet a few of the audience members as they arrive. Get to know them a little bit. They will become your instant fan club. Having met you, they’ll now feel that they “know” you. As you stand up to speak, they’ll be smiling at you, silently cheering you on.
Get there early. Get acclimated, Get comfortable, Get fans. be heard.