Communication Matters Newsletter         
July 2017                                                                Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn   Find us on Google+   View our videos on YouTube   Visit our blog
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When Technology Fails During Your Presentation
I recently gave a one-hour lunch-and-learn for some folks at a tech company.  They
technology failure
wanted me to talk about some of the common pitfalls that technical presenters face and what to do about them.  Giving excuses (or rather, NOT giving excuses) was a major point of the talk, and specifically about making apologies for when technology fails on you.

It's not a matter of if technology will fail on you - only a matter of when.  Whether it's an intermittent Wi-Fi connection; an incorrect password; the port settings of the network don't allow peer-to-peer communication ; a blurry projector image, a weak bulb, or a wrong aspect ratio; a microphone that feeds back or goes out completely; your carefully crafted PowerPoint animations are out of sequence; or a dimly lit room and a dimmer still projector bulb... you WILL face technology glitches at some point in your presenting career.

I've seen technology scuttle many a presentation, including a video failure ("It was a great video, I really wanted you to see it!"), a speaker shock themselves when touching the mic, a live demo where the database connection was lost in front of 4,000 people, and my personal hall-of-shame favorite: a sales presentation that spent 20 minutes trying to get the projector to talk to the computer and eventually was called off because they could not demo the software they were selling (spoiler alert: they did not make the sale).

Which brings us back to my presentation for and in front of a large group of tech savvy folks.  Almost to the second when I was mentioning that technology would eventually be an issue, my laptop dinged three times.  I looked back at the screen in time to see a low power warning right before the display went blank.  Talk about practical application!

3 Tips for Handling Technology Failures During Your Presentation

  1. The first thing to do when technology fails you is to remember that the audience doesn't care.  They came to hear you and the insight you have to give, not be wowed by your amazing slide show or catchy video.  The presentation - hey, that's YOU! - must go on.  If you depend on your slides to remember what to say, you're one bulb from being a stammering idiot on stage.  If you require a mic to speak, then you are a 9-volt battery from being a mime.  Focus on and be prepared to deliver your message, not be the technical operator for your electronic gizmos.
  2. Once you remind yourself that you must continue speaking, the next thing to remember is that you are in the speaking business, not the technology business.  It's likely someone else's assignment (and talent) to fix the problem, not your job while you try to keep an audience engaged.  I try to solicit help before I speak.  Find the sound guy, the video expert, or have someone from the facility on standby to run and get help when you need it.  You need to be speaking the entire time.
  3. The last thing, and perhaps the hardest, is to keep your focus on the topic and talk at hand.  Don't talk about the technology any more than is required to get it back up or to segue to your new method of presenting.  And if you must mention it, once is enough.  Don't prattle on and on about how the technology has failed you.  Deliver your message.

Keep your focus on the message, solicit help from someone else, and stay on message without giving excuses.  The result of handling technology failure in this manner is the appearance that you are in complete control and are a true professional.  That impression may be the most important factor in your success from the audience's point of view.  They weren't likely to remember your specific slides or tell everyone about your corny video anyway.  Make it worth their time (remember Rule #1!) and you'll be golden in their eyes.

P.S. The power problem?  Turns out my laptop adaptor cord had pulled out of the brick that connects to the actual laptop (note to manufacturers - make it ONE piece, so this never happens!).  My host had neatly hidden the brick and the cord so it wouldn't be an eyesore: whether he or I had pulled the cord is inconsequential.  It happened, and I was left to deal with it.  My heart-rate doubled within a second, I couldn't believe it happened, but I transitioned to a notes-only presentation, eventually just turning off the projector.  After the talk, several people asked me how I was able to stage a power failure at the exact time to make my point.  I just smiled.

Communication matters, what are you saying?
Public Speaking Podcast
Key5 Speaker Podcast

Alan Hoffler was recently featured in the inaugural edition of the Key5 Speaker Podcast, a new podcast for speakers - by speakers! Each podcast in the Key5 series ends with a MillsWyck Minute speaking tip from Alan. Listen to Alan's full interview entitled " Everyone is a communicator." Alan speaks about how e veryone is in the speaking business, whether they realize it or not. You can find it on iTunes and subscribe or listen to the full podcast here.
Storytelling Workshop August 30th

Storytelling is the One Skill Every Master Communicator Uses

Stories have been around since before printed text, and they clearly have the power to reach an audience and be remembered. But what are the skills necessary to tell a good
story? And how can you use stories in business situations to make your message more memorable and more impactful? Join us in this fun, interactive half-day workshop where the participants make the material come alive.  

Whether you're giving a technical work presentation, attending a networking event, engaging in a sales/persuasion situation, or crafting your online content marketing plan, you can apply the principles of storytelling you will learn in this workshop to your message. 

Come learn the one communication skill you can't live without.

Are you a Professional Speaker?

Key5 Speaker Conference

Get More Speaking Engagements with videos of you presenting to a live audience!

The Key5 Speaker's Conference is a half day event designed for professional speakers. If you're a paid professional speaker looking for a complete, high quality video marketing library to promote your business then this conference is for you. You'll walk away with a full suite of marketing videos and still shots taken in front of a 100+ person live audience. Key5 is held in an upscale venue and produced by a professional video crew with 7+ cameras and professional audio and lighting. 

To prepare for the event, you'll also have full access to personal coaching from our team at MillsWyck Communications. We will be providing intensive support for all 20 speakers before and during the event. Currently, there are 14 speaker spots left. Don't delay, grab one of those spots now to catapult your speaking business!

Key5 Speakers Conference
Presentation Sin
Presentation Sin Book Speaking Tips

This month's Speaking Tip taken from  Presentation Sin   addresses the sin of not having a Backup Plan!

public speaking tip
Feature Article from Karin Wiberg of Clear Sight Books

Speaking and writing go hand-in-hand. This month we are featuring an article by Karin Wiberg of Clear Sight Books. She shares with us why writing your own book will support you as a speaker whether you are a professional speaker or not. 

Speaking _ Books

Speaking & Books: Magic Momentum
by Karin Wiberg

I recently realized that a full two-thirds of my book clients have been members of Toastmasters, the international organization that helps people learn public-speaking skills. It didn't take long to figure out why: most of my clients are professional speakers or have public speaking as a significant part of their portfolio, along with consulting, coaching, and training.

Books support you as a speaker in several ways... read more.
Need a Speaker for your Event?

Alan Hoffler Keynote Speaker

Alan Hoffler, founder and director of MillsWyck Communications, is an accomplished keynote speaker.  He uses the skills he teaches to craft authentic, custom messages that energize and motivate audiences.  

Alan's Signature Keynote Topics
  • Winning Communication - Strategies to Connect and Convince
  • Presentation Sin: The Practical Guide to Stop Offending (and start Impressing) Your Audience
  • Why Modern Business Communication is Killing Productivity (and what you can do about it)
  • The Silver Bullet: The One Skill Every Communicator Should Use

Check out the full list of Alan's  keynotes  or contact us a bout customizing a presentation or workshop for your group.  If you need a speaker for your next corporate meeting, professional organization, or conference, contact us  at 

Upcoming Workshops

Raleigh, NC
Aug 28-29 (Don't miss Early Bird Rate!)
Oct 16-17
Dec 11-12

Aug 30

Join us for two days that will change your life in our Powerful, Persuasive Speaking Workshop!  This highly interactive, hands-on workshop gives you the skills to face an audience and deliver content in a clear, concise, and compelling manner. Close that deal, give that career-changing presentation, or motivate your audience to action. Speak with confidence, power, and ease. Limited seating.

In our Storytelling Workshop, learn the one skill every master communicator uses. Whether you're a hesitant speaker, reluctant content writer, or a communicator who wants to be GREAT, our storytelling workshop  will teach you a valuable and easy-to-learn technique to captivate your audience.

Here's a sneak peek at what a public speaking skills workshop from MillsWyck Communications is really like:

MillsWyck Communications
Communication  matters.  What  are  YOU saying?
Alan Hoffler, Philorator (Teacher & Lover of Speaking)
(919) 386-9238 

A lan Hoffler is the Executive Director and Principal Trainer at MillsWyck Communications.  He is a Trainer, Speaker, Author, and Coach who passionately moves others to effective and engaging communication. 
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