Start Your Presentation on Time
Respect your audience and especially their time. Develop the habit of starting your meetings and presentations on time. Do that and people will notice. They'll be more willing to attend your meetings and they will make the effort to arrive on time.
They will also be in a better mind set when they notice you starting on time. If you want to annoy your audience, start late.
Announce the times (start and end) and provide directions
If it's your meeting, clearly advise all invitees exactly what time it will start. One trick to convince people of your intentions is to state an odd time - e.g. 9:03, 1:07, 3:36.
If your presentation is the main feature and there are some things happening before you go then it's a good idea to state that upfront. Imagine attending a concert only to be forced to endure unannounced warm-up bands for hours before the main act (a la Justin Bieber).
If your meeting is in a conference center or hotel, ensure that there are clear directions from the main entrances to your meeting room. Check with the venue staff.
Plan to arrive early
You get there early. If you haven't been to this location before be sure to double check the directions and the map. Allow for travel delays and the potential for bad directions.
If you are travelling out of town to deliver an important presentation, you might want to arrive the night before.
Check the room and test your equipment
Visit the presentation room before anyone arrives. Get into the room and get comfortable with it. This is easy to do if you arrived the day before your presentation. At least plan to arrive one hour before the program begins so you can get into the empty room.
Start even if...
At the promised time start your presentation. If you've checked the room and your equipment then you are ready to go. If you've clearly communicated the start time and directions then most of your audience will be ready. Someone will always be late.
To help get people into their seats and ready as the time to start draws near, announce "Five minutes to start", "Two minutes to start" and even "We're starting in 30 seconds."
If your equipment fails just before your presentation - start! Start on time and that means you need to have a Plan B opening while the crew is fixing the equipment problem. Don't make the audience suffer because of your equipment failure or lack of preparation.
Don't do what one Vice president of an IT company did at a presentation. Clearly she hadn't checked her equipment. When she was introduced she walked up to the stage with her laptop and handed it to the crew who were seeing her for the first time. They scrambled to hook up her laptop and ran into problems. Meanwhile the audience was waiting.
She watched the crew for a couple of minutes, remembered the audience and turned to us with an exasperated tone, "Talk amongst yourselves."
She clearly didn't demonstrate respect for the audience or the crew who got her equipment working in a few minutes.
Respect your audience and start your presentation on time.
PS: Tell me how this tip helps you.
Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives