First rule of using equipment when presenting?
Check it beforehand – and ideally not on the day – so you know what you’re working with in terms of screens, projectors, laptops, clickers, microphones etc…
I was at an event recently with about 130 others.
The screen was pretty large but even so it was not one that was easily seen by most of the room. The speaker then suddenly discovered to her horror that not only was the glorious sunshine affecting the screen but the words on the slides weren’t visible.
It was clearly one of those cases where they looked great on her laptop but obviously didn’t work on the big screen in a sun filled room. Credit to her that she carried on irrespective that no one could see her slides but it did become a wasted opportunity.
Watch out also for overhead projectors.
At one event I attended earlier in the year the main speaker managed to continually stand in a position so that the light beam was hitting him on top of his head and therefore not only reflecting his shadow on the screen but also lighting up his head! He had no idea this was going on. Check where the beam will be and thus where not to stand!
If there is a microphone available then use it. Most people who think they don’t need a mic actually do.
Check in advance how your slides will move forward. You don’t want to be fiddling around with the clicker when you are supposed to be delivering an attention grabbing opening.
In terms of low tech kit I always have a few postcard size notes with me with just a few headings on just in case I lose my place when I’m presenting.
They provide a confidence boosting safety net and and also give me something to hold in one of my hands. I was at the event recently where the no doubt highly paid guest speaker decided to go noteless but his backup was a series of A4 size scribbled sheets. He lost his place a few times towards the end of his presentation and he kept looking down onto a table and flicking through his A4 notes to try and find where he was. It wasn’t very impressive.
Similarly I witnessed someone who started off with postcard sized notes in their hand but then halfway through for some reason put them on a table at the side. What had started as a really good engaging presentation suddenly became very disorganised as she lost eye contact with the audience in trying to read the notes over her shoulder.
Finally if you are going to use slides don’t fill every last square inch on the screen with either a word or logo or some branding etc.. One of the common problems with presentations is that the presenters insist on filling the screen with tons of words or complex diagrams or lots of images on the same slide.
Inevitably presenters then spend most of their time looking at the screen and pretty much reading what is on it. Minimise the content on the slides – it will be much more impactful.
Remember the screen is there is a prompt for your audience not a script for yourself.
Of course the best way to not have to worry about equipment is to ditch the slides. More on that in my next blog.
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