When is your session going to be on, and Where has it been scheduled? By Mark Davis

When is your session going to be on, and Where has it been scheduled?

 When and where are you talking?

Let’s look at the different times of the day and the benefits or challenges that they bring. As well as your location or venue and it’s characteristics. Everything has an impact on your ability to speak and train and get the retention of your information, as well as the outcomes of assessments, tests or exams.

In the examples that follow, I’m going to show you the types of events that I have been a part of at different times of the day. And what I believe you need to focus on to maximize the impact of your training.

You need to understand your students mindset, their  physical  well being  and their focus – in order to tailor your presentations to fit.


Brisbane Hilton: 7am. The sun has already been up for 2 hours and  the  people are arriving already, 30 minutes early. Over 120 seats are set up at round tables, beside the swimming pool. How was I to know that this time of day would be so popular for a training session!

Lucky draw prizes, giveaways, 10 guest speakers talking  for  3-4  minutes each, and for me – $39 per head in the  pocket!

Positive speakers, a hot breakfast, unlimited coffee, the sun shining, and making money!

The energy was amazing, people were chatting and networking and happy and spending money. Some stayed for 45 minutes after the 9am close, and continued to hold small meetings.

I had discovered the power of the breakfast training.

If you are the first training or speaker of the day, and you have an advantage over every other trainer.

Your audience’s brain is empty. Well not hollow empty! But the advantage of the morning is there have been no problems in the day for them to focus on or be distracted by. Because the morning is a new start, you don’t have to fight for their attention over all the other things happening in their life, personally or professionally. There will be nothing in their day as important as what you are presenting, because there has been nothing else in their day!


Dallas, Texas. 10am start after driving in from Oklahoma City the  night before. 3 hour workshop on public speaking and there is a great room of about 50 people. It’s a relaxed start, being a Saturday, and still most people are there on time.

Not too formal, just comfortable clothes on the audience, so I’m the best dressed in the room with my suit and tie. I talk with some of my early-birds and they are just glad to have something to do on the weekend before their chores, their family commitments. This is a chance to have “me” time and they are looking forward to the training session.

Everyone is happy. They aren’t rushing anywhere, and at the end, they stay to chat and talk about the rest of the weekend, their plans. New friendships are made, I pose for photos, it’s a relaxed time of day.

What happens in the morning?

On a weekend it’s perfect, but during the week – after people travel to get to your session, have driven through rush hour traffic, maybe had two coffees already, checked emails, farewell to the family, maybe dropping children  to school or worse still, sleeping in and having to rush, it’s a blur.

You can’t start too high energy in the morning sessions. They’ve already had a half a day jammed into 2 hours!

Unlike breakfast, you aren’t the first part of their day,  you are about the 6th or  7th.

  1. Debrief their morning so far before you start the session. Do this by giving them a 5 minute warning before you start, and encourage them to meet the person sitting next to them, have a coffee, go to the bathroom, and prepare their mind and body for the session

  2. Instruct them in some rules of the training session. Not too strict, just find a way of making it easy for them to be engaged and pay I find that if you make them put their phones away, they don’t. So just ask them to put them to silent and that they won’t need them for the first half hour or so, however you will want to access them later for some research and to answer some key questions.

  3. Get them focused on you with a good activity that brings their head and body into  the  This  means  you  need  a  great  opening  story,  physical or verbal activity, or exercise that everyone participates in. This does not mean a movie or something they can go back to their phones or laptops to distract themselves with. You have to get them involved!

  4. Be dynamic for at least the first 30 minutes. You don’t have to be a motivational speaker or anything too outrageous – just keep your energy levels high. This will keep them focused on you and give them less reason to be distracted. Don’t try comedy unless you’re really good! Remember – the smartphone is the bane of a trainer’s existence, but iPads and laptops are even worse because from the front of the room all you see is the back of them, while they may have  emails coming up, videos playing or facebook streaming past  your students eyes distracting them.

After lunch.

I attended a great conference in Sydney where the lunches were light. Salads, couscous, cold meats, a few cheeses. Orange Juice everywhere, lots of  cold water, and a few sandwiches. After lunch we went back in  energized  and looking forward to the next session.

At another conference by the same company, also in Sydney a few months earlier, we look at the buffet. Stew. Casserole. Goulash. Roast Meats. Hot vegetables. Creamy desserts.

I think I went into a food coma and didn’t come out till about 4pm, just  before the final speaker for the day.

Food  is such a crucial factor in the effect on the audience when you are   going to speak or train. Know what lunch was like, and you should have an advantage going into your session.

Every trainer and public speaker hates this time of day. Especially if people in your audience/company are used to having big lunches. Regardless, when people have food in their stomach you have to deal with it.

Every negative can be turned into a positive… and here’s  how.

When you sit your audience down for a training session after lunch, don’t talk for more than about 10 minutes before getting every single person standing up. Walking, talking, getting into a group, interacting with others and with you.This  will help stimulate a higher blood flow around the digestive organs, which   in turn will get the food moving faster through the body. When that happens, blood can then move back to the organs you need them to be paying attention with their brain.

Getting them up pushes blood through the legs and around the body. The brain is way up the top of the body and when the stomach and intestines are consuming all the energy blood has been diverted there. If it’s down there, it’s not up top where the thinking happens. And you need people thinking!

Another great tip is to not have too many heavy concepts in the 30 minutes after lunch either. Keep it light. Ask questions, prompt for conversations, and encourage participation from everyone. The faster that food goes down the faster you’ll have an alert, active, responsive  audience.

For your information, conferences are the worst places for trainers. Whether on at 2pm, 3pm or 4pm, you are relying on three factors.

  1. How heavy lunch

  2. How active the first session was

  3. How long the sessions after lunch went without a break

If you have a heavy lunch, followed by a seated, darkened room, in a 2hr session, you’re going to find it incredibly challenging to get your message through. So you have to increase your level of interaction, activity, and most of all….


Remember, there’s no such thing as a bad audience, it’s up to you!


It’s the Hyatt ballroom in Houston, Texas. 180 excited networkers are streaming into the room to take their seats for the event of the year, the Mastermind.

I’m due to speak at 8pm, after the dinner break and am the second last  speaker before everyone heads off to party.

I’m so committed to giving a great presentation I have been watching the audience all day, seeing who  puts  up  their  hand  to  volunteer  the  most.  Where the dead spots are in the room for the Microphones. And how the layout of the  room is affecting the impact of the presentations.

Before I begin, I walk up to the front row, 27 people in the VIP of VIP – the closest table to the stage. I say hello, smile and get to know them while the room fills up. I ask if it’s OK for me to refer to them in my talk. They say yes. They’re excited to be a part of the training session.

When I begin, I tear off my tie and hang it on the podium. Then I walk down the steps, into the crowd.

It’s after dinner, they are quiet now and their stomachs are full. I’m going to have to raise the energy of the room and do it by getting amongst the crowd.

I create a ripple of excitement as I stand beside the front table, close enough to feel their eyes burning into me and the anticipation of the session ahead bubbling like a boiling  kettle.

I challenge them all by telling them “You don’t get any better at public speaking, sitting in your chair!”

I tell them it’s going to be a great session, and that I’m glad to be there, and that this skill can change their life. I get them to find a partner, to stand up, and to present a short speech.

They all stand. They all participate. The  energy in the room is amazing, and the session goes great.

The standing ovation 45 minutes later reminds me that I’m doing what I should be. I’m living my  purpose.

People are often confused when I say I love doing training at night. I have done more seminars in the evening around the world than I have done daytime, so I have a lot of experience to reference here.

From about 6-7pm people have forgotten all about their day, they’ve had a drink, moved location, possibly had dinner, and caught up with a few social aspects of their life.

It’s like their day has begun again. And if they’re excited about the training they are attending, you have them alert and interested just like it was breakfast all over again! I like to lead up to evening trainings with emails or group messages so that people have some anticipation of the event. There is nothing better than having a calendar reminder for something exciting, and then having it match or exceed your expectations.

The only challenge I really had in night trainings was other family members being dragged along. I had a gentleman in Chicago whose  wife  made  him attend a 4-hour public speaking workshop. He was even stuck in the front row!

Anyway he left for the bar after the first break, and was happy to have permission from me to do it. I wanted him gone! He was bringing down the  mood of the other 40 people there so better to be out of the room.

Night is also a time when people in your audience will relax more. There are no more deadlines for the day, there is no meeting after your meeting. All they have to do is relax and listen and after they go home to bed!

It’s  my favorite time to train.

And they also are thinking about themselves and their personal career too. Not their boss, their job, their to-do list. It’s about them. So they will consider  this training for their own personal or professional development. They are bigger risk takers – participating in the training, volunteering, and talking, and sharing their feelings and emotions.

Would you risk walking on fire if you were at work? Probably not, but at a personal development workshop every weekend around the world Motivational Speakers have fire-walks for people wanting to push through their fear barrier and prove they can do anything!

Take advantage of this and ‘push the envelope’ demanding more of your evening  audience.  Students  investing  in  themselves.  When  people  are selfish they work harder, as the results are for no-one but them.

By the way – don’t ever mention how late it is, how hard their day was, or anything negative. They showed up, they are there to learn, so give it 100%, and they’ll give you the same energy commitment.

Match your personality style and your message to the time of day you speak. If you’re a really motivational speaker, you can do it anytime. But if you are a bit more mellow, laid back or softly spoken, you need to speak when your audience is at their most energetic. First thing in the morning, or after work in the evening or a weekend.

Where  are you?

I’ve done trainings:

At A Sailing Club in New Zealand

Beside a private airplane hanger in Jakobszallas, Hungary In a suite on a cruise ship off Key West, Florida

On a basketball court in  Brisbane

In a hotel ballroom at the Hyatt, in Houston In an old Kodak Factory  in  Adelaide

In an alpine chalet

In a boardroom in Melbourne In a  Pizza  restaurant  in  Brisbane At a racetrack in Adelaide

In a shopping centre in Budapest

On a beach in Port Dickson, Malaysia In a warehouse in Melbourne

In bean bags in Brisbane at the convention center Outside a Supermarket in Mackay

In the convention center in Sydney

In my hotel suite at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast In my apartment living room in Bondi

At a golf club in Kuala Lumpur

In a football stadium in Melbourne In a coffee shop in Fremantle

Under the flight path at Los Angeles International Airport In a corporate training room in Singapore

At Heathrow Airport, London

In a University lecture theater in Perth Beside a freeway in Vancouver

And many other interesting venues.

I’m the only common denominator. Me and my training. My goals to pass on my knowledge. Which I then adapt to the location as required so it will work better.

Most of the training examples in this book are about classroom, workplace or seminar style trainings.

But you might be in a very different environment.

Where you train can be as diverse as the type of training you are delivering. You  could run a session on:

A  beach In a hotel On  a boat

In an airline simulator Behind the bar

In church At a school

On the sports field In a gymnasium On the roof Underground

In a train

And you could have seats, stools, be sitting on the floor, standing, while dancing, riding a bike or in the back seat of a car.

What you need to know – is it doesn’t matter where – you can train anywhere.

For your own peace of mind – I would encourage you to prepare ahead of  time and know what your training location is. Because it’s hard to show powerpoint on the beach with a projector! Light, Power, Tables,  Chairs all vital for your classroom presentation will be useless out here.

Plus you can use the principle of “Location” in your talk then. If you’re at Mount Maunganui in New Zealand, you should be able  to  build  rapport  because you walked around it or over it.

If you’re in San Francisco, you are near the #1 tourist attraction in the USA, Pier 39. If you don’t go there, it’s like you didn’t visit at all.

When you’re in Toronto, you want to visit Niagara Falls. First because it’s amazing, and second, because everyone has been there. Don’t be the odd one out.

Know your location and do something to get a feeling for the area,  the people you will be training and the issues of the  day.

In Romania I was speaking just as a new Prime Minister had been elected.    He was German! After more discussions and research, I found out this was a  good thing and the people of Romania were looking forward to a new era of government.

If you train at a sports field, get the history. Who’s the local team, how successful are they. Something you can weave into your  training.

When you speak on a cruise, it’s unique because you will meet your trainees again and again during the time you are sailing. So you have  multiple chances    to reinforce your key points and refresh them too.

In a coffee shop – you might not be able to be heard, so possibly a screen or    a curtain might be necessary. The environment will affect your outcomes.

Consider your location and how you can adapt your training. Some of my favorite leadership talks were held outside of the classroom. My induction training with new students used to be 50% inside, and 50% out at the official evacuation area!

There is no limit your creativity as a trainer, and the more adaptable you are, the more your clients will want you back. Don’t say no to a venue because it’s not what you’re used to, instead be flexible, be adaptable, and find a way of getting your message through.

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