After speaking at hundreds of in-person presentations, I’ve learned a thing or two about what can go wrong in front of a crowd of expectant listeners. My computer didn’t always play nice with the venues’ projectors. I saw that Powerpoint may not look the same on another computer as it did on mine. A few times, the audio cut out or squealed when I got too close to a speaker. My computer has crashed or powered off mid-presentation, or the batteries died in my slide advancer. Plugs, cords, carpets, stages, and podiums presented tripping hazards. Once a retractable screen failed to deploy. My contacts dried up and popped out of my eyes during one keynote (I don’t think anyone realized it but me). Another time there was a horrible screech and crash as a car plowed into the wall of the hotel I was speaking at (everyone in the room ran to the window to see what was happening, and thankfully no one in the car was hurt).
Over the years, I’ve figured out ways to combat many of these problems. I built a travel kit full of extra adapters, cords, and batteries. I can give my presentations with or without slides. I review the room ahead of time. When one of these issues pops up, it now feels like a tiny problem, not a catastrophe. Just when I thought I had professional speaking all figured out, we moved to online at the speed of light.
Now we are learning together about all the technical issues that can surprise speakers and event hosts online. Event hosts are using dozens of different platforms, and even the usual ones don’t always work every day in the same way. Videos sometimes don’t play. Countdown timers are wrong. Slides are blurry. Speakers start speaking while muted. Features don’t work. Slow or spotty bandwidth makes some attendees out of sync with the chat.
Everyone is learning. The virtual platforms are dealing with an exponential increase in demand. Event hosts are relatively new to this work, putting on their first, second, or third virtual event. Speakers are struggling with taking their in-person skills and applying them to the online environment. Everyone gets it. If a noticeable technical issue arises during your next virtual meeting, don’t worry. Everyone understands that we are learning to meet in a new way! Do not let the fear of a glitch stop you.