Just now, while you are performing on stage, the beamer breaks down! How can you save the presentation so that your audience will remember you well? I will get to that in a moment.

Are you familiar with your equipment? Have you considered all eventualities? Are you well prepared and equipped for your performance? Then you can deal more confidently with situations such as a broken beamer, power outage or other unexpected disturbances. You can avoid a large part of these problems through targeted preparation.


You know your equipment

If your presentation is supported by videos, PowerPoint or Prezi, you need the appropriate equipment. Do you bring your own laptop with you, or do you transfer your presentation to a device of the organizer via USB stick or smartphone? If you transfer your data, then you should know the available program versions of the host. At conferences, you will usually find the relevant information on the corresponding website, otherwise only specific enquiries will help.

If the two versions of Office differ, your slides may not be recognized or may be distorted. For example, if you are working with widescreen (16:9), but the other laptop is only adapted to the standard version (4:3). In this case, the edges of the slides will be cut off on the left and right sides. You can adjust the version that suits you in the menu “Design – Slide size”. You can find more detailed information about the right slide size in Peter Claus Lamprecht’s blog (in German).

Do you insert comments in the field below the slide? I see many who insert whole paragraphs of text here and show them at the beginning or end of their presentation. What is certainly optimal for the preparation of your presentation, I do not want to see from the audience perspective – it is much more valuable what you say. Hence my tip: Hide the comment field in the last saved version by displaying the slide in its maximum size.

Let’s stay with the technical equipment for a moment: Do you need electricity, an extension cable and a connection between laptop and beamer? What equipment will be provided on site? If you are presenting with your own laptop, bring your HDMI plug, which connects the laptop at the interface to the beamer.

In the Control Panel, you can set the laptop so that it will not switch to sleep mode after a few minutes. You can adjust this using Control Panel – Hardware and Sound – Power Options – Edit plan settings. Especially if you are not a technology freak, it is best to get to the venue well in advance. This allows you enough time to check all technical details and adjust them so that there are no unnecessary interruptions in the presentation.


Your backup plan

The power fails, the small lamp in the projector bursts or the beamer breaks down: it has all been there before. Are you also mastering this situation?

Ideally the battery of your laptop is charged, so that you can see the slides or present them freely. In front of small groups you can show some pictures and graphics if you hold your laptop in front of you – of course only in selected places, otherwise your mobility would be significantly restricted. If you are using the organizer’s laptop (which no longer works), you will have your own backup with you. Better still: you have printed the slides in front of you and can now access them. The best thing to do is to always prepare yourself in such a way that you can present without any aids if necessary.


Do you know the room where you present?

Regardless of whether it is a conference, lecture or seminar: check the room in which you are presenting, preferably in advance, in order to get an idea of where and how you are presenting best. How many people can you expect at the event? What is the seating arrangement like? Lecture hall, U-shaped tables or a circle of chairs? How is the optimal lighting? Where are the beamer and projection screen for your presentation located – and in which area can you move the best?

Think also how much physical closeness you allow to you and your audience: In classical lecture halls the distance is unnecessarily increased by large tables, the desk, the (mobile) beamer or even the overhead projector. Keep in mind that the closer the physical distance, the more direct and personal your communication with them will be. As a speaker, there is nothing to hide.

The use of headsets and microphones is common in large rooms. Ideally coordinated with the technical team, you can answer the following questions with an acoustic test in advance:

  • In which position of headset/microphone is the resonance in the room optimal?
  • Is the headset in an optimal and stable position without getting out of place?
  • Where do I switch the headset/microphone on and off?

If using the headset, it should not cover your face. To reproduce your voice clearly the headset should be close to your mouth without over-emphasizing every sound such as inhaling or exhaling. If you have long hair or wear jewelry such as long earrings, make sure in the test that there is no unnecessary background noise. Also the cable should not pull uncomfortably.

With the microphone, you also check the optimal position in advance. This way you avoid the mistake many speakers make without preparation: they keep the microphone too far away from their mouth, so that their voice remains slurred, or they keep it too close causing crackling noises. If your non-verbal communication is particularly pronounced (applying extensive gestures), be even more careful to hold the microphone between your chin and mouth while speaking.

As you are well prepared, you can handle all eventualities more confidently, adding to the quality of your presentation. What are your experiences? Let’s discuss it in this blog. Good luck with your future presentations!

This post is also available in: German

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