The dreaded Plan B: Presentations without technology

technological advancement in society


Think back to the days before PowerPoint and other presentation software were created…  Technology has made an amazing impact on the event industry and has given the speakers at events great tools to aid their presentations.  We encourage you to take advantage of the many tools out there that help you with the event planning and execution process; however, as a speaker you should be able to present without the use of technology as well.  No one is a fan of “technical difficulties,” and they always happen at the most inconvenient times.  Losing Wifi, misplacing the USB with your presentation, or broken projection screens are all examples of when you have to opt for Plan B due to a technological failure.  We hope that these situations remain hypothetical and hope that you won’t have to deal with them, but if something does come up, then you will know how to handle it.

Technical issues can arise at any point: hours before a presentation, 5 minutes before, or in the middle of a presentation. Sometimes these issues are completely unavoidable, and sometimes they can be prevented.  As we always suggest, it is important to thoroughly prepare and practice your presentation before the event!  Practicing at the venue with the proper equipment is one of the best ways to discover technical issues before you have to make your presentation.  Do a run through using the PowerPoint, projection screen, microphone, etc. We will list a couple tips for you in case some of these issues arise at your event.

If the microphone stops working…

There is a reason why people announce “testing” “testing” several times before starting their speech while using a microphone.  If your microphone stops working at a small to mid-sized event, it is not too difficult to recover.  If your microphone stops working while speaking in a large venue, we hope that you will have someone on staff that can handle the technical aspects, if not, then implement these tips the best way you can.

Not everyone is used to projecting his or her voice to a crowd. If your microphone stops working at an event, ask someone to start working on the problem while you get back to the presentation.  Take a deep breath and project from your diaphragm.  Speak at the loudest level you can without screaming or straining your voice.  The goal is for the majority, if not all of the audience to be able to hear you without your microphone.  Try the best you can and move across the stage to reach other aspects of the room.

If the presentation screen shuts off…

Yes, there is a possibility that the presentation that you spent hours working on will not be shown to your audience.  If you find a problem with the projection screen before the event, you will likely be able to find someone who can solve the problem before you have to go on stage; however, if someone trips over a cord or a light burns out during the presentation, you might have to continue presenting without your precious slideshow.  You can apologize to the audience and look for a quick solution, but if you can’t immediately see the root of the problem, then don’t make the audience wait forever as you wonder around the stage and look for help. The most important thing to remember during this situation is to stay calm.   Don’t freak out and start from where you left off.  Think about the big picture messages that you wanted to discuss.  If you had graphs or charts in your presentation, then try to explain the data orally to your audience if it is possible. Run through the presentation slides in your head and skip the unimportant ones.  Try to keep pace of your time, as you will likely have to speak longer to get your point across when you don’t have a slideshow.  Avoid making repetitive excuses or expressing your frustration about the technical failure to your audience.  If you pull it off in a lighthearted mood, then you will gain major brownie points from your audience and they will be impressed with your ability to deal with adversity. Consider sending the presentation to the audience afterwards as a follow-up in case they missed any points you were trying to make.

If your presentation video does not load…

If it is possible, embed your video into the presentation instead of simply leaving a link on the slide that redirects you to the webpage.  If your video is not working, it could be linked to the internet connection.  Check that first, and make sure you are connected to the Wi-Fi network. Depending on the importance and complexity of the video, you could still explain the concept shortly to your audience. Also, promise to send the video link to participants after the event so they have a chance to watch it.  If you can think of a creative way to express the video’s message, then go for it! You might be freaking out on the inside, but don’t let those emotions show through in your expressions and actions.   There are worse things in life then having a malfunctioning video, but we do know how annoying it is.



Check out Beekast ! A comprehensive web and mobile solution to promote, manage, and bring life to your events (conferences, meetings, seminars, conventions, workshops…)


Erica Martin

Business Developer at Beekast

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