Unlike eleven years ago when I started in this business, web conferencing is quite reliable. But often the internet itself, is not. The good news is that with 700 or so online presentations in the bag, I can tell you assuredly that it’s quite rare to have a problem.
But then there was last week.
I spoke at two conferences last week, and in the middle I did a presentation to an Australia/New Zealand audience…from my hotel room. Wouldn’t you know it, literally 10 minutes into the presentation the hotel’s internet connection went down. And it was down for the rest of the presentation.
There are a lot of different ways to “plan for the unplannable,” but here are the specific things I/we did that turned disaster into success.
Pros rehearse. Amateurs don’t. You might be a “professional” in the business world, but you’re an amateur presenter if you don’t rehearse. In this case, my moderator and I had chatted before hand. I was able to keep going because he pushed my slides. Note that this was possible because the failure wasn’t the conferencing provider or my computer…it was local to me in the hotel.
Print a copy of your slides
I use a lot of slides, and I know my material well, but I still print a copy of my deck in the “nine slides to a page” handout view. It gives me a chance to look ahead, and since I use very visual slides, I’m not reading them. But a printed copy is like car insurance…not something you plan or want to use, but in the case of disaster, you live or die by your ability to adapt.
Write the login details somewhere at the top of your printed slides
Again, this is experience talking. If you get booted off your web conference, or the audio drops (I had my local phone provider cut me off in the middle of an event once!), you’re not searching for how to get back in. If you’re using an operator-assisted call, give the operator a phone number where they can call you right back. AND, if you’re using VoIP (I was in the hotel room), it goes down with the internet connection. But a minute later I was dialed back into the audio conference and we were back to presenting.
One other note here…I close all extraneous applications, including email. So where’s that phone number if you’re looking for it? In an email or on your Outlook calendar. Spare yourself the headache…the time it takes to reboot email and get the phone number will seem like HOURS when you’re under the gun.
So, was the event a disaster? Not if you look at the post-event survey. Audiences realize that “stuff happens” (oh, BTW, stuff happens in the offline world, too!).
The question is, “Are you prepared?”
Plan for the unplannable.