Presentation skills – 5 tips to help you survive a disaster

Have you faced a disaster during a presentation? If not, you will soon. It happens to every public speaker at some point. What I experienced during a recent presentation can help you prepare for the inevitable.

Like most presenters, my presentation was on PowerPoint slides. I set up early, and had the projector running prior to my presentation. Unfortunately, the projector died soon after I began, which caused me to react. There are several lessons to be learned from this incident. Note that the first item is more of a preventive measure. I include it in the list because projector problems are common.

1. Monitor the projector. Unlike most presenters, I don’t typically glance at the projection screen. Preferring to maintain my concentration on the audience, I will just glace at the laptop monitor, and look up at the audience. In this case, the projector was placed next to the laptop. Had I turned my attention slightly to the left, I would’ve seen that there was no light coming from the projector lens.

2. Maintain your composure. Your audience looks to you for direction. Project the image of an experienced presenter; one who has faced this before and knows what to do. Don’t let the incident get to you.

3. Plow on. Unless the breakdown is fatal, continue with your presentation. Your audience came for the content; if you’ve rehearsed well, you can still deliver the goods. Remember, too, that audience members have schedules to keep. You need to stay on track.

4. Enumerate. Audience members want to follow along with your material, even take notes. List the various items that would otherwise be shown on the screen. Say, “First (or  number 1)….” “Second (or number 2)…” and so on.

It’s also a good idea to provide transitions between your topics. Say something like, “Ok, we reviewed the process for preparing the soil for planting. Now let’s discuss the 5 steps for planting and caring for the bush.”

5. Remember the fundamentals of public speaking. Despite how nervous or upset you might be, maintain good eye contact, use vocal variety, and include good gestures and body language. Without visuals to take some of the attention off you, you’ll need to be a little more dynamic than usual. (Of course, you should always show your enthusiasm!) Keep your audience enthralled, and they will overlook the breakdown.

For related reading, see “Improve your presentation with pauses,” “5 common presentation mistakes to avoid,” and “3 more tips to improve your oral communication skills.”

If you liked this post, could you do me a favor and share it with others? You may use any of the buttons below. Feel free to comment, as well. To contact me, send an email. Tom Fuszard, content writer, blog writing, pr writing, web copy



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