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#290: Presentation Disasters

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 23, 2010
Updated: Friday, April 23, 2010
I recently attended a seminar held by a fellow consultant. During the presentation, his computer ran out of batteries and he had forgotten his power supply. The material he was presenting to the group abruptly stopped and he was forced to continue the seminar without the benefit of his slides. Unfortunately, the rest of the seminar was not well received, as the presenter never truly recovered from losing his material. What a nightmare!

A/V problems occur, and when they do, it's better to be in the audience than leafing through the projector manual and fielding "helpful" suggestions from the audience. This is classic risk management - making sure the worst case doesn't happen.

First, be able to walk through your material without the A/V. If you understand the material well enough, even with a few notes to make sure you cover all items, then you will not miss a PowerPoint "crutch."

If that's not possible, always test the computer and projector in advance with a dry run. Go through the list of failsafe items: your power supply, laser pointer, three pronged adapter plug (the $0.50 part that could save the day), a flash drive with a copy of your presentation. If possible, make sure there is an extra projector and/or computer available just in case. Always bring a paper copy of the presentation with you and, if possible, some handout copies for the audience.

Don't panic. This can be as uncomfortable to the audience as it is to you. Finish your thought with confidence and then decide how to proceed. If a hardware change is necessary and possible, calmly ask for a short break to make the switch. If you are prepared for what to do in these circumstances in advance, it should be as simple as executing your plan for continuing your presentation.

Tip: Even if you are ready to restart, this doesn't mean the audience is. Even a few minute break can bring the mood and attention of the room to a dead stop. The sign of a pro is, when you restart, to rewind your presentation a bit and review the few minutes prior to the event. Make sure the audience is in sync with you by summarizing the top few points of the presentation (your roadmap) and making sure everyone is back on board before you proceed. Given that you are in a break, this is a good time to offer to answer any questions. Your goal is to make it like it never happened.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  meetings  planning  presentations 

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Comments on this post...

Fred Zagurski says...
Posted Saturday, April 24, 2010
Whenever I do a presentation, I copy my P/P to the hard drive with a copy on both a CD and a thumb drive so if my laptop crashed, I could use someone else’s. I also make sure I always bring my power supply. However, at my last presentation while I was about 80% complete, a message appeared that my battery was low. I thought this was strange since my power supply was plugged in. About 5 minutes before my ending it went dead. Someone had accidentally switched off power to the outlet while switching off the lights at the beginning of my presentation. I was able to finish OK. But you never know what problem to expect.
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Michael E. Cohen CMC MBA says...
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This may have beeb suggested, but youy should set up the eqipmnet and presentation well before it is to start. For example, if the presentation is to go on after dinner, set thing up before the dinner starts.

As suggested above, always have handouts. The audience wants to take somehting away, as well as somehting to take notes on. If the equipmnwet filas, you can revert to the handouts.

Finally, for selected presentations, conider doing on without PowerPoint or other AV. If done well, you may be better able to capture the audience's attention.
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