Tech Tips for Presentations








When you are presenting, something will likely go wrong. I know that doesn’t sound like me, but this is one place it pays to be pessimistic. If you think about the number of details that go into a presentation, there is a high possibility that something won’t work, something will be forgotten or something won’t connect. We can’t control what happens, but we can control how we react. Breathing and shrugging help me. When my wifi goes down in the middle of streaming a video I say, “Well, we weren’t meant to see the rest of that right now, may be we can come back to it after the break.” I have to accept it and let it go. That’s what is. But the good news is you can prepare for many mishaps. Here are some tips I’ve discovered and learned from other presenters:

*Have a backup.

Whether it’s a laptop, charging cord or projector, having a backup on site is important.

*Don’t forget your dongle.

Often when I go present outside my district I’m hooking my MacBook Air to other projectors. There are two main types of connectors with projectors: VGA and DVI. I carry dongles for both.

*Think twins or triplets.

If my presentation is only saved on a flash drive, that flash drive could be corrupted or lost. If my presentation is only saved on my desktop and I have something happen to my computer, I’m out of luck. If my presentation is only on my Google drive or saved in the cloud and I lose internet access, I can’t get to it. So I make sure to duplicate my presentation in at least two different spots. When I present with a team, we make sure two of us have the presentation. I’ve also printed off my presentation slides and kept the copies. Worse case scenario, I could show the copies of the slides under a document camera.

*Doublecheck handouts.

If someone else is going to be running handouts for me, I keep things as simple as possible. I’ve found “as is” masters are the best approach. That way I can say, “When you make the copies you can look back at this and make sure they are the same.” Still, it’s so important to spot check those copies to make sure they are right before it’s go time. It’s tough to be in the middle of a presentation and have people say, “I don’t have that page.” Also someone running copies isn’t going to notice that they cut off the last sentence on page 6, but I will.

*Wifi waffles.

While connections are constantly improving, I’ve still had many occasions where the wifi was not dependable. Do you need to play a video? See if you can download it. Do you want to show a website? Take some screen shots. Anticipate a problem and see if you can create an alternative.

*Make sure your sound is sound.

A presentation with poor sound will not do. Make sure your microphone or speaker system is adequate for your needs. A portable system will work fine for an audience of about 60 people or less, beyond that you need to be sure that you have enough volume. You can always turn it down so plan for your largest possible audience.

*Dress for your tech

If you are going to need to use a lavalier microphone (a hands-free or lapel mic), think of your attire. Do you have a collar to attach the clip? You may have a power unit that goes with it so you’ll want a waistband, pocket or belt to attach it to. If you happen to be wearing a form-fitting, one-piece dress, it is possible to attach it to a cuff or strap or even tape it to your back, but be aware, wherever you attach it, make sure you (or someone you know) can reach the mute button! Whatever your situation, plan how your clothing can accommodate your needs.

What other tech tips help you navigate presentations?


One thought on “Tech Tips for Presentations

  1. Oh Heather! I feel your pain. I have many, many stories of technology gone wrong. You offered great advice. Here are my “fail-safe” (HA!) plans:
    1. I always go to presentations early to give myself time to figure out the technology.
    2. If possible, I email the my presentation to the local tech person as a backup.
    3. I travel with my MacBook Air, an Ipad, and a flashdrive.
    Even with all of these backups, things can still happen. I always say, teachers are problem-solvers. We think on our feet. We can figure this out together. Happy New School Year.

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