Rolling with Digital Punches

...as experienced by Lorraine Behnan
AVW-TELAV "Meeting in Progress" Newsletter Summer 2005

If you are working with a professional Audio Visual company, the chance of experiencing a techno-crash is unlikely. However, the experienced presenter knows all too well that things can happen that your technician cannot control. What if youíre in the middle of an important presentation and your computer freezes? If only for a moment, oneís natural inclination is to freeze as well, your mind falling into vapour lock.

Your heart starts to race, you are lost for words, and you pray to be rescued or miraculously beamed up from the stage. After recovering from the initial shock, you laugh nervously, shake your head and mumble a few unpleasant comments about technology. This is a turning point for you and your relationship with the audience. They are holding their breath with you as they anxiously wait to see how you will manage the situation.

The most important thing is to remain calm and gracious under all circumstances and to exhibit professional decorum. This crisis can be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your sense of humour. Rather than feeling uncomfortable and sorry for you, audiences will admire your ability to perform under duress.

Here are some tips to help avoid embarrassment and make you look like a winner - even when technology is against you.

  1. Plan what you will say, and make it appear spontaneous. A possible cover line may be, "We have now entered the X-Files" or "We are experiencing the invasion of the techno-Gremlins." You get the idea.

  2. If you are using your own laptop, check settings to ensure that your laptop will not 'go to sleep' or that embarrassing pop ups will not appear on the screen. If this has happened to you once, thatís quite enough. If you do not know how to program your computer ask your IT contact for help. If you do not have IT support, ask the on site technician for assistance.

  3. Bring a hard copy of your slides - make sure the font is easy to read and keep the notes accessible. Keep a running order of the slides on the podium or table for quick referral.

  4. Practice your presentation without the use of slides - if you are fully prepared you should be able to present without the use of visual aid.

  5. Always have a backup of your show on a memory stick or CD so that an alternate laptop may be utilized.

  6. Never blame the technician or the equipment for the malfunction. This is a sure way to lose the support and empathy of the audience.
Lorraine Behnan is President of ExpressionLab Communications Inc. Lorraine is a highly recognized expert on change and communication who, for over fifteen years, has successfully motivated and trained companies and associations across North America. For more information visit www.lorrainebehnan.com.

©2005 ExpressionLab Communications