Your Laptop or Mine?

You’re giving a talk to your industry trade group.  An audience of 350 people.  That should look good on your résumé.  You polished up your slide deck and sent it off to the event organizers.  Don’t forget to practice!

On the big day, in the middle of your talk, you notice that the fonts are all wrong.  Sometimes your text even disappears off the edge of the slide.  And that video you embedded doesn’t play.  Major embarrassment! Career in jeopardy!

So what happened?  You may have fonts installed on your laptop – the one on which you created the presentation – that are not on the event organizer’s laptop.  Or you may have a plug-in for playing that video that the event organizer does not have.  Or you may be linking to a video on a different computer that you are unable to link to at the event (there’s not always an available internet connection).

Sometimes it can be a simple as you having PowerPoint version 2010 and the event organizer has only 2007.  Or 2005!  How primitive is that?  I’ve actually inquired to an organizer what version of PowerPoint will be on the presenting laptop, and they say, “What does it matter?  PowerPoint is PowerPoint.”  Wrong!

Here are some suggestions to avoid these nightmare scenarios:

  • Insist on using your own laptop.  This is usually possible when you are the only presenter.
  • If you can’t use your own laptop, for example, at a multi-day conference with numerous presenters, arrange to meet ahead of time with the organizer, or better, if they have one, an engineer, for a trial run.
  • Stick with standard fonts.  Or if you simply must have that special font, save it as a picture and insert that into the slide instead.
  • Create duplicates of the risky slides, one with the video, one with just a still shot.  Then, in the trial run, if the video doesn’t work, remove that slide.  Or if the video does work (sweet!), remove the one with the still shot.
  • Just in case your own laptop fails, always bring an additional copy of your presentation on a thumb drive.

And, never, ever forget Murphy’s Law.

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