Presenting with technology such as slide decks (delivering presentations using the likes of PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi or Google Slides, for instance) affords us great freedom and creativity for memorable presentations. But it can also go horribly wrong. Here’s how to overcome the all the most common presentation technology hitches.
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
Do you rely on presenting with technology?
Have you ever had any of the following happen to you:
- a microphone cut out at the beginning of your presentation
- a PowerPoint slide deck suddenly freezes
- A presentation clicker is “as dead as a mouse” and no use at all
If you’ve ever found yourself in any of the aforementioned situations, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
Presenting with technology affords us great freedom and creativity these days when it comes to making memorable presentations.
It can also go horribly wrong.
Check out this “worst nightmare” parody:
How to Avoid a Presenting with Technology Disaster
When you’re presenting with technology, there are a few things you can do ahead of your presentation to shrink the odds of something going wrong, so that you can head off disaster at the pass.
Here are a few tips you can use to help ensure a smooth, slick presentation delivery that hits a home run when you present with technology.
1. Tech check before you present (or face a tech wreck in your presentation!)
Always do a sound check and tech check.
Whether you’re introducing a colleague or giving a 1-hour presentation, always make time to get into the space and liaise with the sound engineer or organiser before people come into the room.
Check the following:
- Is your presentation clicker is working?
- Make sure the clicker batteries are fresh
- Check online links and that WiFi is working
- Are your PowerPoint slides working properly?
- How are your microphone and levels?
Of course there’s always a chance things might go wrong even after all that careful planning but the chances are far, far less and you can feel confident that you’ve done all your homework.
2. Ask for what you need – if you don’t ask, you don’t get
Find out if you have a choice of microphone and ask for what you need.
Whenever possible, eliminate any obstacles that come between you and the audience, the most obvious one being the dreaded podium.
There will be occasions where you won’t have a choice, such as awards ceremonies and dinner events where you will be expected to use the podium.
But if you have a choice, and you will have to ask sometimes, for presentations choose a lapel microphone, a hand-held microphone, or no microphone at all.
This will afford you freedom of movement and direct access to the audience.
3. Practice with your tech (or pay the price with your pride!)
This might seem obvious when it comes to preparation.
But do not underestimate the power of familiarity with your technology!
Especially when it comes to microphones and practising with your slide deck.
Practice your delivery using a surrogate hand-held microphone (a hair brush or even a serving spoon work in a pinch!), a microphone on a stand or using no microphone at all (as you would with a lapel mic).
It’s the simple act of imagining yourself in different situations that does the trick.
4. Do a “Recce”
When presenting with technology, in army-speak this is a “reconnaissance run”—checking out the landscape before executing the mission so there are no surprises.
In layman’s terms this means getting into the space you’ll be delivering in and getting the lay of the land before the actual event.
Some examples of things to think about during your “recce” mission.
- Where you’ll be standing
- Where the screen will be
- How high the screen will be placed
- How large the room is, so will you have to use a microphone or not
- What will the lighting be like…?
Basically, this is a chance for you to get all the information you can before the actual event.
The chance of success goes up, and the room for glitches goes down!
5. Have a Plan B (a.k.a. Prepare for the Worst!)
Some of the best presentations are just one person and a flip chart.
No matter what happens, the show must go on, right?
So have a plan of action ready if the worst case scenario occurs.
What about if the electricity goes out, or your laptop decides to pack it in?
Always, always, always have a hard copy of your slides or notes with you for every eventuality.
If you’ve prepared and know your content, you’ll be able to deliver your presentation no matter what fate throws at you. And trust me, the audience will be with you every step of the way because we love an underdog.
At the end of the day, failing to plan is planning to fail.
The Presenting with Technology Recap
No matter how much we check our technology is working, things may inevitably go awry. That’s just the nature of the beast.
So in order to reduce the chances of a major technological glitch affecting your big presentation, you need to be prepared.
When you plan ahead you’ll at least be ready to pick up the ball and run no matter what.
- Do a “Tech Check” in advance
- Ask for what you need
- Practice with any technology involved
- Recce the room
- Have a Plan B
Do your reconnaissance, practice, and plan for as many eventualities as you can and above all, Keep Calm And Carry On!
If you liked this you may find these an interesting read also:
- Eight Sales Presentation Techniques to Win That Six-Figure Contract
- Why Nerves Can Make You a Great Presenter
ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.
We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives.
Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.
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