I’d bet my last dollar you’re familiar with the Transformers movies that have come out the last few years. These action films, full of explosions and unexpected twists, were directed by Michael Bay. Unfortunately, he experienced an unexpected incident of his own while promoting Samsung’s high definition curved TVs back in 2014. When a teleprompter malfunctioned, he became visibly flustered and then walked off the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show. You can watch the video here.
My heart goes out to him! The truth is, no matter how diligently you prepare for your presentation – there are some things you just can’t control. Life is unpredictable at times, and so it goes with presentations. However, since you know that it’s not a matter of if something goes wrong – but when – it really is good to come up with backup plans for how to handle situations gracefully.
Here are three situations and tactics you can use for expecting the unexpected like a champ:
1. Computer fail
Technology is great – when it works. It’s suddenly your worst nightmare when it doesn’t cooperate with you for your presentation. Your computer could crash, PowerPoint may not work properly, you name it! First, remember this: NEVER save your presentation to just one location. Save it locally on your computer, save it online to the cloud, and save it to a flashdrive. If you’re flying to your speaking engagement, always keep the flashdrive in your purse/carry on bag. In the worst case scenario of your luggage not arriving at your location with you, at least you will have the flashdrive version.
Have a hard copy of your presentation on hand as well. You can always refer to your printed slides/outline to keep you on track. Most important of all, KNOW your content in and out. If the worst happens and the technology can’t be fixed in time, you can still give your presentation. In the end, you are the one who has the knowledge the audience needs. Technology plays a supporting role in helping you present.
2. Video Fail
This is another common issue for speakers. Internet videos are great because they add a multi-dimensional effect to presentations that keep the audience engaged. However, they can and do fail to play sometimes. Spotty wifi is usually the culprit. Instead of taking a chance on playing the video from the web, embed the video into your presentation.
3. Question Fail (not actually a fail)
Oh no! It’s the Q & A portion of my presentation, and someone has just asked a question that I don’t know the answer to. Relax – the world is not going to end because of this. You are human and it is certainly possible you may not have the answer to an audience question. First, be honest. Don’t make up an answer if you truly don’t know. Tell the person that that’s an interesting question, and one you will have to research and get back to them. Get their contact information after you finish speaking, and actually follow up with them once you have the answer. They will be impressed that you kept your word and cared enough to look further into the matter.
Even the best laid presentation plans go awry, but having a plan for handling mishaps will allow you to calmly respond when they do pop up.
What are some other situations speakers face that require a contingency plan?
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To your speaking success,
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- 1 Peter 4:10-11
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