Houston, we have a problem: 5 ways to prepare for technology malfunctions

American Speaker Forum

Houston, we have a problem.
5 ways to prepare for technology malfunctions

by Catherine Ahern

Murphy’s Law—“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”—may never be truer than when you’re dependent on technology for a presentation. Most of your presentations likely will be glitch-free, however, it’s ideal to prepare for the worst-case scenario so that you can quickly recover when something inevitably goes wrong.

Maybe your microphone will call it quits halfway through your speech or, worse, make that horrible screeching sound. Or perhaps your PowerPoint presentation won’t be compatible with your host’s computer or your projector’s lightbulb will die three minutes into your talk. Follow these tips to ensure that minor malfunctions like those don’t become major meltdowns:

  1. Make two (or more) versions of your presentation. If you are using slide software such as PowerPoint or Keynote, save your final presentation on a flash drive in two formats: one PPT or KEY file and one PDF file. If your host’s computer isn’t compatible with PowerPoint or Keynote, you can fall back on the PDF version. It won’t have all the bells and whistles, but it will be better than nothing. Tip: Email yourself both formats, just in case you misplace your flash drive.
  1. Bring hard copies of anything you can’t present without. Perhaps your host’s computer or projector won’t work at all. In that case, your PDF file won’t be of any use. Print and bring copies of your notes and most important visuals. You might be surprised by how few images need to share.
  1. Practice projecting your voice. Train yourself to speak loudly and clearly. If your microphone malfunctions, you won’t have to skip a beat. Exercise: Breathe in deeply to fill your lungs. Your waist and abdomen should move in and out when you breathe, not your chest. Note: If you are breathing correctly, you can project your voice without straining your vocal cords.
  1. Agree on a recovery plan with your host. Although IT folks have the best intentions, when they jump on stage, they can be more distracting than helpful. Before the event, talk to your host about how you want to address technology problems. Would you prefer that the IT experts immediately offer assistance or ignore problems until you request their help? How long would you want them to troubleshoot before giving up? Example: “If there’s a minor malfunction that can be fixed quickly with new batteries or a new lightbulb, I’d welcome the help. But if the issue isn’t likely to be resolved within a couple of minutes, I’d rather not lose the momentum. I am prepared to continue without the ”
  1. Remember that the audience is there to hear you. Unless you’re introducing the latest iPhone, the audience is far less interested in your technology than they are in your message. If your slide show doesn’t work or your video clip won’t play, simply apologize and move on. You don’t need those tools to convey your message. Your expertise and passion are far more important.

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Briefings Media Group Audio Conference

 The 2 Secrets of Mastering Presentations

October 25, 2012
1:30-2:30 p.m. Eastern

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Learning objectives:

  • Discover how to win over your audience in 8 seconds or less.
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  • Tap into your authenticity while maximizing your transparency.
  • Leverage the power of mistakes.

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