The Key to Presenting Without Problems: Your Tools
- Connecting to the projector
- Using video during the presentation
Your Projector Connection
This is why moderators need speakers to show up early and test the connection and the presentation well ahead of the scheduled speaking time. I always try to get to the room at least 30 minutes prior to my scheduled time (60 minutes if I’m the keynote). In this way, I know everything is connected, on, and working. Then, I can relax.
I am amazed at the speakers that show up 5 minutes before their scheduled presentation and are a flurry of activity attempting to get connected. If problems will happen – it’s then.
I am amazed at how many speakers brought laptops that were well over 5 years old. I’m sorry, but that is ancient technology in this day and age. If you are a professional speaker that is getting paid to talk, then the tools of your trade need to reflect the same quality you want to present. No craftsman allows his tools to become old, rusty and imprecise. Many of my friends are tradesmen, and they take extraordinary care of their tools, as the tools are a direct reflection of their craft and their work.
Here’s the rule: The older your laptop, the more trouble you will have connecting to a projector. Chances are, the older the laptop is, the more RAM is consumed by programs running in the background, and the older the OS will be. Older computers are less responsive, have more “stuff” on them, and create the most problems.
I saw one speaker spend nearly 15 minutes of his presentation time trying to CTL+F7 his laptop onto the projector. By then, he’d lost the audience – literally. They started walking out without hearing a word or seeing a slide. Your tools need to be as sharp as your skills.
Using Video in Presentations
Many moderators and organizers will ask if you have video in the presentation. One organizer states that she preferred no video in any presentations, as there is always a problem and hassle in getting it to work. Again – this comes back to preparation.
If you can’t embed the video into the presentation, and you are relying on an active internet connection to stream it, you’ve made two bad decisions. You can’t ever rely on a good internet connection, and you can’t rely on video that is not embedded, tried and tested. If using video requires you to get out of the presentation and open another program, it is a distraction and takes away from the continuity of your talk.
The new version of Microsoft PowerPoint may have improved video embedding. I know when I used PowerPoint, I never embedded video because it was either impossible or unreliable. If it is unreliable, then don’t do it. However, you’ll only know if it is unreliable if you test it live – on more than one projector.
My Mac Geek-Out
I don’t want to come off as a lemming – but I love my MacBook Air and Keynote. When i switched to this combination, the quality of my presentation increased dramatically. Keynote has a higher resolution and creates sharper fonts and images. Transitions are subtle, but beautiful. As an added bonus, you can embed video into the presentation. The most impressive feature is the ability to edit the video’s start point, finish points and poster frame. You don’t have to watch the whole thing, or switch programs – you edit it to show only the relevant part!
Using my MacBook has also eliminated connection issues by 99%. I plug it in – and it works. Simple, elegant. Now, it’s not to say that once in a while there has been some goofiness with the projector and the presenter display – but if you familiarize yourself with the screen options and issues, you’ll find that they are easily fixed. The 1% connection issue was a bad adapter. Which is why I now travel with a backup.
Pro Tips: Presenting well is all about minimizing external factors. Never rely on “external factors” to make your presentation successful. Mitigating possible problems and controlling as much as possible should be your mindset.
Don’t rely on:
- reliable internet connections
- compatible internet connections
- presentation remotes being provided
- ideally placed screens
- ideally placed projectors
- everything to work, all the time
Mitigating possible problems is part of being prepared.
In order to be prepared, I travel with a presentation kit;