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How to Give a Pretty Good Presentation: A Speaking Survival Guide for the Rest of Us by T. J. Walker

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Chapter 17. Technical Difficulties

WHAT DO I DO IF I ENCOUNTER TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES DURING MY PRESENTATION?

The first thing you want to do when you encounter a technical problem while presenting is not to look or sound panicked. I realize that asking you to do this seems hard, since it's the time when you are most panicked. However, I am actually telling you it's okay to feel panicked—just don't tell or show anyone. For example, one day I was giving a PowerPoint presentation and I had forgotten to plug my computer in to charge the battery. Since this was an all-day training presentation, the computer went dead in the middle of one of my presentations.

I could have blurted out, "Oh my God, I'm a fool! I forgot to plug in my power cord!"

But I didn't. Inwardly, I'm saying a Homer Simpson "Doh!" to myself and wanting to slap my hand to my forehead. But outwardly, I continued talking about the subject at hand. Then I threw a question to an audience member. While he was talking, I quickly opened my computer bag, pulled out my power cord, plugged in the computer, turned it on, and hoped the PowerPoint presentation would come back alive in a couple of minutes. It did! And no one in my audience had any idea there had ever been a problem.

Here are the fundamental rules when it comes to tech problems during a presentation:

  • Don't panic.

  • Don't tell anyone if you can solve the problem yourself.

  • Don't tell anyone if the problem can be skipped over without anyone's really being bothered or noticing—say, ...

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