Presentation Disasters: What to Do When Things Go Wrong

The Public Speaker gives practical tips for 4 common public speaking disasters. Read about how to recover and move on.

Lisa B. Marshall,
October 18, 2013
Episode #224

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Presentation Disaster #3: Your Equipment or Computer Crashes

Given how much technology we use these days, this may be an inevitable (and very unpleasant) experience. Here's what to do to minimize the impact of your computer crashing during your presentation:

  • Before you arrive, print out a copy of your slides. This way, if the computer refuses to cooperate, you can have them at the ready to refer to and continue your presentation almost seamlessly.
  • Ask for help! Keep going on with your talk, but don’t try fiddling with the technology while you're speaking. Attempting to fix it yourself is the quickest way to lose your audience. Even if you know how to get things back on track, let someone else do it for you.
  • Use your body. Hey, all eyes are on you since the computer failed, so why not? You may as well use your arms and gestures to indicate graphs, charts, or whatever else is in your presentation.

Presentation Disaster #4: You’re Having a Bad Day

You know those days when from the moment you get out of bed, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Your alarm didn’t go off. You forgot your materials/laptop at home. There is an accident on the freeway, and the clock is ticking. Murphy’s Law is in full force and you're feeling aggravated and tense before you even arrive at your presentation.

The best way to avoid full-on panic is to email slides to your office or to someone else the night before so that your presentation can be forwarded at a moment’s notice. Also, give yourself extra time for commuting snafus. This can be enormously helpful in reducing stress. Arriving on time is the first step to a successful presentation.

Finally, remember to stay calm, and to keep your sense of humor. We are all human and mistakes happen. Whether these mistakes are your fault or beyond your control, allow yourself a little grace and relax. With experience you will be able to handle any situation. A disaster doesn’t have to be something you can’t recover from. 

Do you struggle with difficult conversations?  Do you procrastinate when it comes to delivering feedback? Do you know how to effectively persuade and influence others?  Learn this and more in my new book Smart Talk. Get your personally signed copy today!

This is Lisa B. Marshall, helping you maximize sales, manage perceptions, and enhance leadership through keynotes, workshops, books, and online courses. Passionate about communication; your success is my business.

Woman at podium and woman at computer images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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