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  • Writer's pictureLiza Engel

Navigating Technology Failures with Confidence - From Preparation to Presentation

Last week was a reminder that despite our best plans and preparations, things can still go contrary to plan. When asked by a colleague how I managed not to lose my cool, it was clear that empathy for everyone involved was vital at that moment, and yet we wanted to learn all that I could to ensure these situations did not repeat themselves. This experience was another insightful journey into adapting to technical difficulties during presentations and panels. Given our heavy reliance on technology to communicate our ideas and stories, being prepared for the inevitable glitches is crucial.



Photo by Andreas Forsberg on Unsplash


Below, I outline some proactive strategies that have consistently helped keep presentations on track, even when technology throws us a curveball.


Be Prepared with Backups

  • Multiple Storage Options: Always save your presentation on at least two mediums: such as cloud storage and email.

  • Additional Hardware: An extra laptop or tablet can save the day if your primary device crashes, and ensure someone else has a link or copy as a backup.


Roles and Responsibilities

  • Define and Delegate: if you are the main speaker or panel host, you cannot also deal with technology or, if applicable, the online community. It is best to delegate this to someone you can rely on. 


Test Everything Beforehand

  • Familiarize Yourself with the Equipment: Knowing how to operate the venue’s tech can prevent many common issues.

  • Pre-load Your Presentation: If possible, upload your presentation onto the venue’s system to ensure it runs smoothly on the day.

  • Ensure proper Slide Format: If your slides are some of many, ensure that your slides were copied into the source document, keeping the original formatting.

  • Numbers Matter: when it comes to online participants, things can start to go wrong when the number of participants increases dramatically. Ensure you learn from the mistakes of others and come prepared.


Troubleshoot

  • Plan for Problems: Ensure you plan enough time to deal with the unexpected.

  • Essential Technical Skills: Learn simple fixes like checking connections, adjusting display settings, or restarting devices. A simple check, such as if the laptop is properly connected to a power source, can save the day. These skills can help you quickly resolve minor issues without much disruption.


Know Your Content

  • Master Your Material: Be well-prepared to discuss your presentation without slides if necessary. This ensures that you can keep engaging your audience even without visual aids. This simplicity could end up being even better than the original, aside from your nerves.


Maintain Your Composure

  • Stay Calm: If technology fails, explain the situation to your audience, apologize for the inconvenience, and continue your presentation. Do not start blaming anyone, including yourself. This can all be reviewed in the debriefing.


Engage Differently

  • Interactive Discussion: Convert tech failures into a more interactive session opportunity. This can involve stimulating discussions or a Q&A to maintain audience engagement.


Review and Learn

  • Debriefing: After all major presentations or events, it is advisable to run a debriefing session within a week to collect all the relevant learnings to ensure things run even more smoothly next time.


Navigating through technological mishaps with grace and preparedness ensures a smooth presentation delivery and strengthens your reputation as a proficient and dependable speaker.

Remember, it’s the resonance of your message with your audience that truly matters. Even mishaps can be turned into memorable moments, and the power to make a lasting impression remains in your hands. Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from every experience. Fall forward!


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