Three easy ways to avoid presentation technology meltdowns
It seems like it should be so simple. You have been working hard to coordinate a meeting with presentations that involve a slide show and videos clips. You think that you have done everything right to make the presentation run smoothly. You feel you should be able to simply show up, turn on laptop, load presentation, and go, right?
A recipe for disaster
When you arrive at the venue, you turn on the laptop and you see a pop up warning from your internet security software but you are unable to turn off without administrative permissions, the pop-ups won’t go away. Then, the VP of Sales calls and tells you that he’s emailing 4 links to YouTube videos that he thinks fit into his presentation, and he would like to show them. You return to the laptop only to find that the screen saver has turned on after 5 minutes and it is asking for a password. You think to yourself, “Could this happen in the middle of the presentation?” You try to turn it off, but you can’t because you don’t have administrative privileges, and you need to open an IT work order to have someone at corporate fix it for you, but they don’t respond very quickly.
Does this sound like a nightmare scenario? This happens every day in the world of presentations and there are a few easy things you can do to avoid these problems before they become show stoppers on your next event.
First Idea: Every company that is serious about meetings should own two laptops that are configured only for presentations.
This sounds scary to IT and security administrators, laptops that are not locked down and configured like every other computer in the organization is going to make eyes roll at the suggestion. The plain truth is that meeting managers in the field need to have the ability to turn off all internet security settings, power saver schemes, and screen savers. If the business simply won’t allow it due to security concerns, plan to rent a presentation laptop.
Why do I suggest using two laptops? Because it far more useful to manage multiple presentations with two laptops than with one. Also, a second laptop can also be a very helpful swiss army knife of presentation editing tools to edit a slide deck at the same time as the other laptop is in use; it is a real time saver when you are under pressure. Lastly and most compelling – in your time of need, a second laptop will likely save your event if something unplanned takes the primary laptop out of commission.
Second Idea: Invest in easy-to-use editing software
There is no presentation in the entire history of PowerPoint has ever benefited from the presenter fumbling to navigate to a YouTube page in front of an audience. It’s never happened. Video for presentations has a very narrow set of file formats that will play smoothly inside of Powerpoint or Keynote. You will need quickly convert files so that you are able to insert them into a presentation and eliminate any chance for an awkward hangup during the presentation. This is another compelling reason to use a second laptop. If you can’t embed video into a slide show, you should be able to confidently play it back from a media player or video playback software on a second laptop. If the technology is simply out of your comfort zone, speak to a professional about helping you organize your videos. Most video editors and event professionals offer this type of service.
Preparation is 90% of presentation success.
Third Idea: Preparation is the best prevention
The famous quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is worth its weight in gold in presentations. Establishing guidelines to control last minute presentations that require major editing are essential in meetings presentations, especially when you are working with C-Suite Executives who do not think of what it takes to make presentations perfect and care little about your stress level. They will hand you a presentation with a blue screen of death background, 100 words per slide and blurry 200 pixel – full screen images in their presentation every time. They will expect perfection and they want to rehearse it perfectly right now.
Meeting judo techniques can help. Create a slide template that all presenters can use, establishing a standard for slide shape (standard or widescreen), title slides, fonts, and image quality. For extra credit, create a deadline 3-5 days ahead for editing and review with each presenter. Load speaker timer software on your presentation computers and rehearse at the office, and carry or rent a professional slide remote and cue light where ever you go. Making presenters comfortable and confident is half the battle. Using technology the right way and to everyone’s benefit is the other half.
It all sounds like very simple stuff, but a lot of people need some help and guidance to get an entire business doing it successfully. The benefits of proactively managing presentations to create low-stress, high impact meetings will make you look like an all-star to your organization.