If you present, become an audio-visual expert!
When technology doesn’t work as expected, it can put your presentation in a tailspin. That’s what happened to me at last year’s Denver Startup Week conference.
My talk on creating an investor pitch deck was so popular, I was asked to do an encore presentation on Friday. The conference organizers wanted to give more people a chance to hear my talk. The encore presentation was in a different and much larger space. The venue had a large podium console, and it controlled all the technology for the event space. It was amazing—this mega-podium controlled everything: The room and stage lights, audio speakers, two high-end projectors, both screens, and three microphones. So with a little experimenting, I connected my MacBook Air, performed a sound check, and displayed my opening slide. I was projecting onto both screens, had changed the lighting, and was ready to go.
About 15 minutes before the program, I decided to play some background music to create some ambiance. That’s when the fun started. The system went haywire. Error messages started popping up, asking me to change the number of colors on both projectors. The projectors were requiring so much memory from the computer that it sent my system into a loop. I tried restarting, disconnecting, shutting down everything, but nothing worked. The laptop was still frozen, and I had just minutes to figure it out. So there I was, minutes before the start time for my presentation, and my computer’s memory was fried. Keynote wouldn’t launch, and error messages kept popping up. I was dead in the water, so I decided to go with Plan B. I pulled a flash drive from my pocket. On it was the saved version of my presentation exported as a PDF. I borrowed a laptop from someone in the audience, opened the PDF, and began my presentation. On borrowed technology, I delivered my encore presentation using the simplest form of my slides. And nearly no one in the audience knew what had happened until later. Technology can let you down, so make sure you have a Plan B in place.
Carry a tech toolkit.
I carry a tech kit (see below) when I speak locally and carry a pared-down version with me on trips. Like the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared. After years of experience and many technology snafus and mistakes, I’ve learned what to include in the bag. Some items are an investment, but they have saved me from disaster many times.
Paul Vorretier is a presentation & creativity expert with over two decades of graphic design, branding and marketing experience. He speaks and teaches workshops on creating better presentations using powerful but simple-to-learn techniques that take presentations from okay to outstanding.