These days, there is a vast array of technology that can be used to support your presentation. This includes: PowerPoint on a laptop, LCD projectors, overhead projectors, multi-media systems, laser shows, PA systems, radio microphones, the list goes on and on. The single most important thing to remember when using such technology is that no matter how well you prepare and how many times you have used it in the past, technology can go wrong. Not only can it go wrong, it will go wrong, usually at the most inappropriate of times.
Now that doesn’t mean you should avoid using any technology, as it can when used correctly add value to your presentation. However, always remember the technology should be used in a supporting role. The experienced presenter is never dependent on any technology, so if it does fail he or she can carry on without it.
A classic example of what happens when technology fails is when a presenter is relying on their PowerPoint (or other graphics presentation software) to provide the cues for their presentation. If the technology fails for any reason, not only are they left without their visual aids, they also have to remember what they are going to say and the order in which to say it.
Losing what you consider to be a vital aspect of your presentation will invoke a level of panic in most presenters. Compounding this with losing your prompts can be catastrophic. I have seen very experienced presenters deliver very poor presentations when the presentation software fails because they were relying on their slides to prompt them.
To avoid technology failures ruining your presentation, I recommend practising giving the presentation without the technology or visual aids and having a set of cue cards to hand, just in case the unexpected happens.
There are occasions when the technology is an integral part of your presentation, for instance when you are demonstrating a piece of software. My advice, in this case, is to thoroughly practise your demonstration exactly as you plan to give it on the day and only show exactly what you have practised. Do not be tempted to vary your presentation.
Technology has a way of catching people out, when the least expect it. Think through the technology you are planning to use and perform a risk assessment.
Common things to remember are:
- Put your mobile phone on silent
- Turn off the screensaver of your laptop
- Turn off WiFi on your laptop
- Check pens have ink in them if you are using a flipcahrt of whiteboard
- Make sure they are the right type of pen for a whiteboard
- Know how to turn your microphone off when you have finished
- Make sure colour scheme of slides works well with the projector
- Ensure you know how to advance the slides
- Have a blank slide at the end so as not to display your desktop
- If you are planning on using an autocue or “presenter view” in PowerPoint have a spare set of cue cards
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