Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Avoid production problems in your presentation

My wife and I watched the Golden Globe Awards on TV Sunday and were shocked by how poor the production was. Technically, there were numerous times that the cameras were not showing the correct person and at least twice the same few seconds were shown again. We also did not care for the potty grade of humour from the show host. We agreed that it was probably the poorest produced awards show that we have ever seen.

Unfortunately, I hear many complaints of presentations that suffer from production problems as well. The presenter doesn’t know how to get the equipment working, fumbling between presenters at conferences and presenters not knowing how to use PowerPoint. I witnessed one of these disasters a few years ago at a conference where the presenter did not know that PowerPoint had a Slide Show mode and so presented in editing mode with red squiggly lines under some of the terms that PowerPoint thought were misspelled.

How can you avoid having people talk about the production problems after your next conference or presentation? I don’t presume that every potential issue can be avoided, but you can reduce the probability of problems with these suggestions.

First, arrive early. By getting to the room early, you can look for possible problems like poor lighting, missing equipment or seats that are blocked from seeing you or the screen. Second, do a trial run of setting up the equipment. Plug in your laptop, fire up the projector, test sound connections and any other equipment that will need to be set up. Third, rehearse with the setup. Actually go into Slide Show mode and test how your slides look. Run video clips and test the audio level. Check animation to see that it looks the way you planned it. Fourth, practice how transitions between presenters will run. Who will be involved, what equipment gets switched and how will that be done. Practice the handoffs so they are smooth.

There are always possible issues that can’t be avoided, but by planning in advance with these suggestions, you can reduce the probability of production problems in your presentations.


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