The “Be Prepared” motto has been used by the boy scouts for over 100 years. Being prepared means being in a state of readiness to do your duty; it’s about making the necessary preparations to handle situations that will or could occur.
As a presenter you need to be prepared to deal with a variety of situations that can throw you off or cause the audience to disengage from your presentation. This can dilute the message you are trying to get across. I’d like to share some of my experiences about what can go wrong, and how to be better prepared.
If you are presenting at a conference, make sure you check in with the AV technician before the presentation (or if you are hosting a speaker make sure the presenter checks in with the technician). You want to make sure the videos work and that there is good sound quality on the room’s AV system. And have your presentation on a memory stick in your pocket. I presented at a conference this week; my presentation was supposed to be uploaded on to the laptop in the room, it wasn’t. No problem, I had my memory stick.
Sometimes projectors fail or don’t want to sync with your laptop. If you can, bring a projector with you as a backup. If this isn’t possible, bring a paper copy of your slides to use as notes in case you have to go into “speech” mode. If you are well rehearsed, going into “speech” mode will be less challenging.
One day this week I arrived in Calgary at 2 am (5 am on my body clock) with no luggage. I had to present twice the next day. As tired as I was, the sessions went well because the presentation was prepared in advance and I had rehearsed a number of times. Also, the potential for situations like this (no luggage) is the reason I dress in “business casual” when I travel.
Venue configuration challenges
Large rooms and small audiences make audience engagement difficult. One of my presentations this week was at 7:15 am. I didn’t expect a big turnout – the early timeslot, plus the conference pub crawl was the night before – but the room was huge. At the beginning of the talk, I had everyone move to one side of the room and I only used one of the two big projection screens. I also didn’t use the podium on the stage; I got down and stood in front of the audience. Doing these things helped make it a more intimate, engaging presentation.
Be prepared! As they say “If it can go wrong it will”!! Do you have any tips to deal with or avoid these types of situations?
Refuse to be boring