As a trainer you’ve either been there or you live in fear of going there … yes that moment when your carefully crafted presentation fades from the screen as the power fails, plunging the room and your confidence into a dark abyss.
The good news is it doesn’t have to mean the end of your presentation. “How can you carry on?” is the wrong question to ask – instead ask “How will I carry on?” Subtle difference between can and will there!
Here are four survival strategies for such situations
1. Take Questions
While it might be more usual to take questions at the end of your presentation there’s no reason why you can’t make the best of the situation and take the opportunity to talk around your subject matter by seeking input from your attendees.
You might be surprised to discover how well this works for everyone, you included.
2. Use Your Backup Plan
You do have a backup plan … don’t you?
Of course you do! A copy of your slides on a laptop or an iPad would work well. It is then a simple case of finding the slide you were on and carrying on as if nothing had happened.
3. Carry On Without the Slides
It sounds like heresy but to quote something I frequently say to people I mentor “Your slides are not your presentation, you are!”. It’s all too easy to become reliant on your slides and even more so if they are serving as your notes. Your slides should enhance your presentation not be the sole focus of it.
Carrying on without the slides is simple: Know your material, be familiar with the running order and be confident enough in your abilities to carry on without them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that the audience may actually appreciate your presentation more for it and not less.
4. Take a Break
If all else fails take a break and regroup. Spend some time with your attendees and then plan what you can do given the constraint of no power.
Situations where things have not gone according to the initial plan have the potential to be some of the most positive and rewarding training experiences you will be part of. The Dunkirk Spirit lives on and serves a trainer well.
I did a session on GREP in InDesign last fall and the projector lamp burnt out 5 minutes in. I joked that I would have to finish the presentation using interpretive dance. No one wanted that, so we opted for describing what you can accomplish and how great it would look on the screen! People are pretty understanding.
Excited about this new site, by the way!
I’d have paid extra to see GREP done via interpretive dance!
I’ve always found folks to be very understanding in such circumstances too. Many say it gives them hope that their struggles are not a personal vendetta on the part of their tech!
Thanks for the kind words re the site, we’re pretty excited too 😉
In one respect, back in the old days when each PC was standalone and there was no such thing as the Internet, my life was easier.
These days many of my courses rely on a decent network connection, a decent Internet connection and a working Webex connection. Add into that mix that I’m delivering training on server based systems such as SharePoint, Intranet editing, Yammer and Lync and you guess what happens if (when) the network fails.
My backup plan is to use slides with screenshots as I’m not too hot at interpretive dancing 🙂 but I’ll try anything once, though I find that although delegates are forgiving, they do prefer to see “the real thing” rather than screenshots.