Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

Presentation Disaster Zone: A True Story


Who wants to feel exposed and inept in front of an audience? No one! Yet recently, I observed a presenter obviously wish she could disappear…all for the lack of a sound check.

This speaker had plenty of important content to deliver. The press was buzzing and there was excitement in the room.

She was introduced, cleared her throat, and said “I’d like to kick off our time together with a short video. It will move you as much as it did me”.

She clicked her remote and the video started, soundlessly. From the audience, we watched a silent video which showed people doing things we didn’t understand and saying things we couldn’t hear.

“Oh!” the speaker gasped. Several people ran up to the stage and started clicking away. Soon we saw the computer’s desktop, then its settings, then some photos of her family members projected onto the screen. Still no sound. More helpers flocked to the stage as the room ignited with conversation and laughter. People checked their texts, wandered to the snack table, and even, in one case, began a loud phone conversation.

As the video continued it silent display, the presenter’s face moved from bright to dark red.  I felt her pain and her sweat! “Let’s just skip the video”, she finally instructed the swarm of people onstage.  More images flashed across the screen until her PowerPoint presentation once again appeared.

Nearly 15 minutes after she initially began, the presenter ad-libbed: “Well, what the video would have shown was…” Thanks to the lack of a sound-check, this speaker lost the powerful and dynamic opening she had intended. Her confidence was visibly diminished.

What’s the moral of the story? There are several:

  1. Check ALL equipment on-site before you begin.
  2. Bring extra adapters, cables, connectors, and other potentially useful technical items.
  3. Be ready to give the presentation without any visual aids at all. Create and bring notes. You will find these helpful even if your equipment never lets you down.

Don’t be taken by surprise! By being totally responsible for your presentation, you will never experience “presentation hell”.


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