If you’re going to be working with PowerPoint with any frequency, you’re going to have a bad presentation. It’s not that you’re a bad powerpointer, it’s that a bad presentation happens to everyone. The largest part of fixing a bad presentation is making sure that it doesn’t happen in the first place. Here are some easily missed but critical things to take care of when before starting your presentation.
First, always check your equipment. Even if it’s the same equipment that you’ve used before, turn it on, load your PowerPoint slide deck into it, and run through your slides. Make sure that it works smoothly and that your entire presentation is there. This single action will save you from more problems than anything else you could ever do.
While you’re checking to make sure that your equipment is functioning, walk through the room while a few of your slides are up. Can you read them from most of the room? If not, make note of that so that you can spend extra time with those to make sure the folks in the far reaches of the room can keep up with the presentation.
Next, check yourself. Pop into the bathroom, and check your appearance. Is your salad still hanging out, caught in between your teeth? Did you spill something on your shirt? These kinds of distractions will take people’s attention away from your presentation. Have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and spare shirt and tie in your office, just in case. Pull out the shirt and replace it with a fresh one every few months so it doesn’t get dusty.
If you give presentations on a regular basis, have a kit that includes extra lightbulbs,(YES! an extra lightbulb has saved important presentations for executives) dry erase markers so you can convert to a whiteboard presentation in the worst case scenario, breath mints, your favorite headache reliever and an anti-gas medication. This kit will save you from just about anything that can go wrong during a presentation.
Now that you’ve prepared for just about any failure that you can think of, you can absolutely guarantee that the type of presentation failure you experience will be something that cannot be corrected by anything that you’ve already prepared for. Because Murphy’s Law exists for a reason, and this is it.
Once something falls apart during a presentation, it’s up to you to get things back on target. If you have a repair that can’t be handled quickly by rebooting equipment, changing a lightbulb, and checking to make sure that someone didn’t trip over a power cord, call a break. Tell your participants to take five. It’s much easier to sort out a problem when people are out in the hall way, having a coffee and re-hashing last night’s football game, than it is when you can’t figure out the issue and you can feel 100 pairs of eyes boring into the back of your head.
Once you’ve cleared the room, breathe. See if you can fix the problem yourself. If you can’t, ask for help. Someone on staff may be able to help you out. If you’re doing your presentation somewhere that isn’t your office, ask whoever handled the booking or who set you up in that space when you first arrived.
If you absolutely can’t fix the problem, prepare to switch to a whiteboard. Most conference and presentation rooms have whiteboards ready to be used. Clearly, the reason you chose to do a powerpoint rather than present on the whiteboard in the first place was partially because of the pictures and animations, and those will be lost in translation. However, as long as you have your presentation memorized, you’ll still be able to get your important points across.
Mostly, preventing a bad presentation is all about preparing ahead of time. If you’re well prepared to handle almost anything that can go wrong, you’ll be set to have a fantastic presentation!
Note: You can use PowerPoint Add-Ins to create beautiful and professional presentations.