True : Joe was hired to at a huge —you know—a fancy stage with multiple iMag screens and colorful .

He planned to make a splash, light up the audience, and please the who was in a position to recommend him for a number of other engagements.

By the the rolled around, Joe was ready! He flew in a day early, got set up, and before he knew it, the read his introduction. He jogged up the steps and onto the platform in front of 2,000 people.

And that's when two very important things went wrong!

The stage had three screens—left, right, and center.

The left and right screens were fine; they alternated between displaying Joe's and a video feed of him presenting so the people in back could see.

But the center screen…?

This had a desert theme, and on the screen right behind Joe, a video loop played over and over. Behind the conference logo, the sun arced across the sky. Shadows of cactus plants and sand dunes grew shorter as noon approached and then longer again until the scene turned to night. Stars came out, faded, and then dawn broke again.

Over … and over … and over!

Can you imagine being asked to present in front of anything as distracting as that?

But that was only the first problem.

Unfortunately, the staff turned the house all the way down.

It's an innocent (and all-too-common) mistake but Joe couldn't see his audience.

He couldn't read their faces to see if they were smiling or responding to his message.

He couldn't see their reactions and his pauses.

He told me later,

“It was like giving a practice by myself. I couldn't see anything!”

So much for lighting up the audience!

You know what else is sad about this ?

Joe had compromised on his speaking fee because the event host promised him quality video footage of his .

But how could he possibly use a video of himself speaking in front of an animated desert!?

Who knew that something as simple as lighting could make or break your event?

The purpose of the stage is to help the presenter and the audience connect. If there's a screen behind center-stage, specify a simple, solid-color background that contrasts with the speaker or harmonizes with their wardrobe.

Tell your team, “No distractions. Make the speaker look great!”

Darkened house work great for movies but a good speech is a conversation between the speaker and the audience. Tell the folks to dim but not darken the house lights.

When the audience and the presenter can see each other, great things happen!

success is hiding in the light.