When I was in High School, I had a poster in my locker of Kermit the Frog saying, “To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.” Love it or hate it, technology is here to stay. And in some ways, it makes our lives — and our presentations — better. But you always need a backup plan, because Murphy’s Law is ever in effect and at some point, that technology fails you.
Technology may be wonderful, but it is also unpredictable. What looked great when you were creating your slides and videos, may turn out to be awful on the day that you actually need them. What works on your laptop may not translate to a screen of a larger size in a big classroom or conference room. And always remember that slides you create on a Mac won’t necessarily look the same when presented from a PC, and vice versa, as well.
Keep this in mind: The technological toys we like to use to “wow” our audience are the supporting cast. People came to see you and hear what you have to say. You are the leading man/lady. It is the power of your words, passion, and charisma that will make or break your presentation – with or without slides and videos.
I can’t emphasize this enough: Every speaker needs a backup plan. Without it, you may very well find yourself dangling from a high wire without a net. Therefore, start thinking right now how you will give your next presentation without the benefit of technology. Here are some ideas to help you develop your own Plan B.
1. Back up your material for when techology fails
Anything can happen to your laptop or projector. It could get stolen or lost on the plane. A second computer can give you peace of mind in case the first one meets some unfortunate circumstances. You can also have a backup hard drive or even put your presentation on your tablet.
2. Bring your own cables
If you plan to use your own laptop, tablet or other devices to present your slides, bring your own cables. Do not count on the venue having all the connecting parts that you need. You can even consider having your own projector that you know works with your device.
3. Let your words carry the load
What an image would do on a screen can be translated into stories full of word pictures, or questions that get the audience conjuring up images in their own heads. Do not discount the imagination of your audience. See how they envision the concepts you want to relay to them.
4. Ask for a break when technology fails
If technology fails in the middle of a presentation, your train of thought may be lost — and so too the concentration of your audience. Use a short fifteen-minute break to regroup, attempt to solve the issue, and if not, implement your Plan B.
5. Practice failure
It may sound strange, but practicing ahead of time what you will do if equipment failure, power failure or some other such disaster happens can make you less anxious. You are more able to think your way through the issue clearly to reach a salvageable solution.
Technology is a convenient tool but it shouldn’t replace good old-fashioned presentation skills.