Five minutes before the start of my noon webinar last Thursday, the Internet conked out without warning. I looked at the modem and saw the little green flashing lights vanish. Online, awaiting my presentation, were about 40 people who wanted to know how to reduce anxiety in their public speaking.

A woman sitting at a table with papers and a laptop.Frantically, my marketing coordinator and I tried to reconnect everything to no avail. For some unknown reason, the green lights suddenly began to flash and the Internet connection was restored. But not the audio portion of the Webinar! Folks could see me on the Webcam but no one could hear me.

All my own training on breathing and staying relaxed while things get out of control when you’re a leader or a speaker temporarily flew away. I tried to smile but I felt quite stressed. Somehow we got the audio to work, and after about two minutes I felt myself calming down and returning to my usual high energy level during a talk.

And the technology gremlins continued their appearance at the end of the webinar, too. While I’d been able to see chat questions and hands raised at the beginning, at the end they’d all disappeared. I did not know how to restore this connection and felt extremely frustrated and frankly, inadequate! A similar but slightly different set of gremlins attacked the evening webinar, too.

Lessons learned?

  • You really cannot control everything! Having the Internet go down just before 
the webinar start is similar to a once-working microphone or projector that decides to stop functioning when you’re on stage or even running an internal meeting. If you’re live in person, I recommend bringing a print-out of your slides, an extra flash drive with your slides and an extra copy of your note with you, just in case. Online, I realizedA woman sitting at a table with papers and a laptop. having a sign ready that I could put in front of the camera saying “Technology challenges. We’ll be with you soon!†or something like that would have helped.
  • You cannot over practice, and that includes the technology aspects of speaking to a group. While I was totally familiar and comfortable with my practical and fun content, I’d overestimated my familiarity with using the GoToWebinar tools. You can bet that I’ll be doing more practice webinars between now and our next scheduled sessions on Dec. 10, 12 noon and       7:30 pm.
  • Be sure to have someone else nearby when you’re presenting who can help out if something starts to go awry. While my marketing coordinator was present at the noon webinar, I thought I could handle the evening one by myself. Wrong decision!

Wishing you a delicious and joyous Thanksgiving! I remain grateful for all your comments about this blog, the webinars, and the opportunities to help you develop your own leadership voice and messages.