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Once I showed up to speak to an audience of three hundred and there was no microphone. Another time the remote wouldn't advance my slides. And still another time, the projector bulb blew up in the middle of my speech. Technical mishaps happen. It's how you deal with the mishaps that will reveal your level of professionalism and confidence. Here are three pro tips to help keep you cool when you feel let down by technology or equipment failures. Number one: when it comes to presentation technology, over prepare. Use a checklist to make sure you have everything you need to present, including backups. Show up early and test everything.
I can't count how many times event coordinators have told me that they would provide absolutely everything--computer, remote, projection system--only to find an item or two that simply didn't work. If you can, pack some of your own items. Bring your own laptop and remote for example. Even if you don't need them for your presentation, having them on hand gives you a quick backup plan in case somebody else's equipment fails. Secondly, know your presentation cold.
If your presentation technology goes into total meltdown during a live performance, you can always go on without it. I was delivering an out-of-town training session when the projection bulb blew up about fifty minutes into an hour-and-a-half class. Since we were on a tight schedule, I couldn't stop to fix the bulb. Instead, I asked the tech staff to work on the problem while I continued the session. They never did fix the problem, but I kept right on going. Always know your material. You'll look like a polished professional when you rise above any technical glitch you might encounter.
And third, when you feel that technology is failing so badly that there's absolutely nothing you can do to salvage the presentation, there's still one thing you can do: get your audience involved in the problem. Remember, a business audience can be extremely empathetic to technical problems; they have happened to everyone at some point. I remember when a building's extremely loud alarms went off during a tornado warning. I asked the audience how they wanted to proceed. We all decided to call our families to make sure they were okay. We marched to the basement and went on with the show.
Get your audience involved in your most dire technical or situational problems. Instead of being completely flummoxed, you can use some of worst technical issues to create a memorable emotional bond with your audience.
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