I was doing a late afternoon consultation with a client in Colombia recently and had successfully tested the online software that morning with no issues. At first, after just a few hiccups, everything seemed fine. About 10 minutes into a two-hour session, my client kept going on and offline. For a while, he could see me in the video camera, the slides and hear everything perfectly. Then, he got kicked offline. My usually reliable program (it was not Skype) and the process grew increasingly frustrating.
Every few minutes, my client’s assistant called on the landline from Colombia assuring me the problem was on their end with the Internet connection, not mine.
Whether you are doing a program live in person, or online, you can encounter technological difficulties with a projector, sound equipment, microphones, you name it. It’s definitely happened to me many times over the years. I remember one especially awful episode early in my speaking career when the projector suddenly stopped working. I was extra nervous because both of my parents were there to hear me, something that had never happened since their divorce many years earlier. Two other experts were on the agenda – neither was using slides – and I was last. Since I had not practiced without the slides, I stayed in the control room until the projector was fixed. Alas, there were only five minutes left in the session for me to speak. It could not have gone worse, but I had learned a big lesson.
So when my client called me by phone directly from his office in Bogota, based on many previous experiences with malfunctioning equipment in live situations, I knew what to do. I emailed him the personalized report we were to review, and a handout that could replace quite a few of the slides. I talked through the remaining topics in a conversational way even though he couldn’t see the slides. He seemed pleased when we finally wound up the call and I was glad.
As the expert, be ready to do your speech or presentation without any technology. You are the boss of your message, not the technology! Print out your slides just in case. Practice without your digital companions. You will be a hero when things get off track.