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Put aside for a moment the obvious advice that you should always practice and prepare for a presentation that uses any form of electronic device. We all know that. The reality is, if you're in the business of giving presentations long enough, eventually there will be a circumstance that you can't control - you'll get a late start to the venue or meeting, the tech guy will be sick, you name it. Preparation is the first line of defense against a presentation disaster, but at least once in a blue moon, there will be an instance in which you won't be able to prepare as thoroughly as you'd like.
It happened to me recently. I had an unforseen situation that needed attention and thus ate away the travel/set-up cushion I usually allow myself when I give my monthly presentation to my largest client. The technology gremlins were mischievous that day, and could have derailed my entire talk. The hiccups didn't, however, and largely because I employed these three tactics:
1. Force yourself to gain perspective. Seriously, unless you're this guy, or this poor girl, or heaven forbid this guy, your gaffe is not going to become the next YouTube sensation. Take a breath. You're not the first person this has happened to, and you won't be the last. Sometimes, perspective can come based on past history: In my case, I've performed in such a way for this particular audience over time that they knew the lapse was an apparition, not a pattern of unpreparedness on my part.
2. Buy time, if you're able. In my case I requested other business be tended to while I figured out why the tech gods were vengeful that day. Obviously, that won't work in every situation, but being nimble and quick on your feet will help you smooth the awkward imposition your difficulties have presented, and help return the meeting or event to a normal flow.
3. Don't compound the situation. Once my presentation finally loaded, I used the remaining time I bought to cover the projector lens and immediately skip to a slide that included a video clip. It wouldn't play. Rather than fiddling more, I went into the presentation, and simply described what the video was about when I came to that point. My announcement that I wasn't even going to try to play the video actually garnered a laugh from my audience. I've always believed the worst mistake is the one you make twice. If technology is not your friend, cut your losses and don't attempt the bells and whistles that could dig you a deeper hole.
4. Stop apologizing. Once is enough. Each subsequent acknowledgement of the technological snafus further erodes your credibility and the chances your message will be received. You'll also find it will erode your confidence and trip up the timing you've rehearsed. (PS - You did rehearse, didn't you?)
5. Nail the ending. You want your last touchpoint with the audience to be one that makes the mistakes at the beginning a distant memory. Focus your energy on leaving on a high note.
At the end of the day, mistakes happen. Nightmares don't have to. Preparing to deliver your presentation under normal circumstances is the ideal, but consider also preparing for the worst case scenario. If you give enough talks, you'll eventually need the plan.