Ah, an excellent presenter! Too bad he didn’t prepare for this Audience.
Stepping up on the stage the expert himself was prepared. Years of experience showed in his look and demeanor, and though pressured to deliver (he had a flight to catch we were told) he stood with a knowing smile and strong assurance before his 200+ member audience last week. From the start and through several minutes of delivery we knew we were in good hands. YES!
Then his computer slides went wacko.
For some reason, when he advanced to the next slide it wasn’t the one he wanted. That caused our expert to escape out of slide show view and reveal his slide sorter. He managed to keep talking, sort of, while scrolling through his slides to get back on track.
What shocked me was the number of slides he had! His technical glitch didn’t happen just once but 5 or 6 times, and as he got further into his presentation we got to see, via his sorter, his astounding slide count.
Six hundred ninety-four was a number I saw. And that wasn’t the end of his deck!
Though the slides he wanted were “active” and the others “hidden” (you can hide slides in a presentation so they don’t show when presenting, if you didn’t know) it just wasn’t working. And although this great storyteller tried to keep on script while he dizzyingly scroll-searched, his excellent dynamic and thought-flow was compromised.
HOLD ON, this is a technical glitch! Happens to everybody!
Yup, a mishap. But this Actor didn’t fully prepare for this Audience. He repurposed a set of slides designed for another Audience. 694+ when he probably used 20 for this keynote?!
Multipurpose often has little purpose. And he had no backup.
For all the good stuff happening with this guy, it’s inexcusable for him to not make the time to whittle down hundreds of slides to the couple dozen or so that matter. And via the editing process, lessen the chance of a technical challenge.
Some may gloss over it as a technical problem. Doesn’t matter. Some may excuse the presenter due to hectic schedule and a flight to catch. Does not matter. That audience, at that moment, should have been the most important thing in the world to this Actor on the big stage.
To borrow a classic news reporting threat: CAN THIS HAPPEN TO YOU?! Probably not if you:
- Make the time to prepare. A copy of the huge presentation could have been edited, deleting all irrelevant slides for this Audience. That takes time but protects performance time on stage. Make time to practice too, with your equipment and as few slides as possible.
- Have a backup. I create a pdf version of my slides and have them open so I can quickly switch if something goes wrong with the presentation application. I throw them into full screen/slideshow mode using keyboard shortcuts and barely miss a beat. Yeah, I practice this.
- Shut off the slides and just tell your story. Always be prepared to tell your story slide-less.
I wonder what this presenter said to himself on the way to the airport. Was he as disappointed as his Audience? Will anyone give him feedback?
Failing to prepare for each unique Audience sets you up for failure. And that’s not going to happen on your stage. Is it?
It’s your stage. Your performance. And having prepared for each Audience, you’re on!