Wednesday, June 20, 2012

PowerPoint Equipment Malfunction - Preparation is Key

The thought of an equipment failure during a PowerPoint presentation can certainly bring a *gasp* to your lips, but staying composed is critical in this situation.  Panic will create frustration and anger, and in turn this will impact your audience. As you are aware, all eyes are intently on YOU at this point.

There are always elements of presenting that are out of our control, ie. audience interruptions, power outage, Charle Sheen runs in the room "WINNING" or just sometimes presentation equipment is just not working as it should.  This does not mean that you are doomed and should crawl under the lectern for fear of the audience witnessing a meltdown by their presenter.  We hope! My husband, Chris, always makes a little joke when encountering equipment issues "Oh, I hope I get this working so I don't have to do the whole presentation in interpretive dance".  Lightens the mood, while you sort things.

PowerPoint Presentation Malfunction
Always, the best plan is a pre-emptive effort to prepare you well in the event of an equipment crisis.  There are a few options to get you through this predicament while maintaining your professionalism and demonstrating the ability to think on your feet.

Check your equipment before you begin -  Never step up to a microphone, turn on your slideshow or use props without testing everything first.  Don’t depend on the facility you are using to ensure everything is working correctly.

Be competent by thoroughly knowing your presentation content - Simply note a technical issue and continue to discuss the topics as planned.

Keep index cards on hand – Note your topics per slide on an index card to assist with keeping your presentation flowing smoothly.  Have your cards clearly marked or color coded to quickly move to the correct spot with little hesitation.

Printouts – If your presentation involves a lot of graphs or tables, try to have printed copies available to hand out if you feel they are necessary for impact.
Keep a whiteboard handy – If your audience isn’t too large you might consider having a white board on hand to demonstrate any points necessary.

Apology – Your natural reaction may be to apologize for the technical problem, which is appropriate, ONCE.  The audience does not want to hear your repeated apologies throughout the remainder of the presentation.  Keep it short and move on.

Preparation is the key and having a plan is essential for a smooth transition in the event of equipment failure. You will discover that most people will understand when issues are arise, as long as you stay calm and keep things moving.

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