A Presenter’s Worst Nightmare

It happens to the best of us. Despite preparations–testing equipment, rehearsing in the space–technology can let you down right in the middle of a presentation. How do you handle these unforeseeable hiccups? Watch how a presenter at one of the most prestigious speaking events deals with this all-too-common issue.

Well… maybe it wasn’t so unforeseen afterall. But while this video is perhaps only meant to make us smile, we can still take a few cues from “Colin Robertson” to make our own presentations more engaging and memorable.

1. If Technology Is Tripping You Up, Skip It

(Or try to skip it.) If you are confident in the core message of your presentation, you’ll be able to be flexible during your talk: if the video isn’t loading, move on. You can always send relevant information to your audience after the fact.

2. Use Humor

In the above video, what begins as a sympathetic chuckle for the unfortunate man on stage bubbles up to waves of widespread laughter and applause as each audience member gets the joke. Humor is a great, effective way to grab the audience’s attention and connect with them on an emotional level.

3. Audience Participation

While spinning umbrellas and free-range beach balls may not be appropriate for every situation, your audience will be more likely to remember your message if they are helping you tell your story. Asking for examples from the audience, taking a quick poll, and even Q&A sessions may be all it takes to get your audience involved and drive your message home.

4. Know Your Audience

Would this joke land with every group? What about an audience who only uses PCs, or one who rarely gives speeches? The group behind this spectacle, Improv Everywhere, know who they’re addressing: an audience full of presenters, many Mac users, and pretty smart cookies who will realize what’s going on before the rainbow wigs come out. Tailoring your talk and your presentation style to your audience will make for a more effective delivery and a more willing reception.

5. Surprise and Delight

That old marketing mantra, that we should strive to surprise and delight our customers, applies to many presentations as well. If your goal is to pitch your company, product or service, to spark excitement among your employees, or to incite any audience to act, give them something worth responding to! How many times have you filed into a conference room with a vague sense of dread about whether the next hour will be one of utter boredom? Audiences expect to be talked through pages of text-heavy bullets, so if you can inject something special you will stand out. Even a well-designed presentation, delivered with energy and passion may be refreshing enough to get your audience to sit up and take action.
As “Colin Robertson” says, it’s the unexpected discoveries that move us.

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