Photo courtesy of BBR Creative:
Hey it’s Kenny. So I normally don’t write blog posts (I leave that to our brilliant copywriter Luke), but I thought this week is special. Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking at one of the LAUNCH hour luncheons at Innov8, Lafayette’s week-long festival highlighting the city’s growing entrepreneurship scene, innovation, and community. I was asked to deliver one of my “How to Create a Kickass Presentation” keynotes to the audience, which I speak about frequently, so I didn’t bother too much on changing things up. But unbeknownst to me, I would soon be giving a very different version of my keynote. All due to a lack of preparation and a slight dose of carelessness.
You see, one of the worst things happened right before I took the stage; something that I hope would never happen to any rising entrepreneur before their big moment.
The electronic display system went down.
What that basically means is that Kenny is about to deliver a presentation on presentations WITHOUT a presentation (For fun, here is the original presentation I intended to give: Presenting an Experience).
While I thought getting an hour early there would help with the setup, it ended up teaching me a huge lesson: You can only control what you can control. As a presenter, it’s YOUR fault if you can’t deliver and the show must go on. Would I be so sick to deprive this wonderful audience knowledge that can possibly help pitch their next $1,000,000 idea all because of a lack of a slideshow? Hell no. I know what I’m talking about and took this as a personal challenge to make a huge point to the audience- audiences are more likely to remember the presenter over the presentation.
So, taking a deep breath, I went up there and gave a presentation on presentations without a presentation. And it felt great. Presenting without a slideshow made me feel liberated and even more conversational. Some even thought I did the lack of a slideshow on purpose. After all, who’s crazy enough to talk about proper slide design without any slides? Apparently this guy:
I felt great afterwards and the audience’s response was very warm. I felt like this ended up being a blessing as I got to still show the audience my passion on presentations without any visuals. I even got the nickname “mad genius” from one of the audience members. Life was good, momentarily.
However, on the way home, I realized I might not be so lucky next time.
1) Check audio visual at least 24 hours in advance.
This one is a no-brainer, but I still managed to screw it up.
I only checked my equipment needs prior to my event, but in retrospect I should have tried a quick run through of my presentation the day before. I quickly found out that one hour was nowhere enough the time needed to fix things.
With at least a 24-hour response time, this should leave you ample time to find a substitution or solution.
However, if it’s last minute disasters and things are really out of your control…
2) Don’t back down and make excuses if things go wrong.
Sometimes you can’t help it if things go wrong and you’re left slideless. Something tells me I earned more respect from the crowd by not backing down what I promised to deliver to them. Unless this slideshow contains extremely critical information you can’t present with, my advice is to always have a backup plan to deliver.
Which why it’s important to…
3) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Now while it might not be our fault that the venue’s system couldn’t display our presentation, it is 100% our fault if we didn’t know the material. We took the lack of visuals as a challenge and an opportunity to prove 1) audiences are more likely to remember the presenter more than the presentation, 2) your presentation is meant to be a visual aid, not a presentation crutch, and 3) rehearsing and practicing your presentation is the most important preparation factor to a great presentation.
Now, me and my team would love to hear about your biggest presentation mishaps below and how you handled them. Perhaps we’ll compile the best responses in a blog post and share them to our readers in the future. I bet that would be one funny blog post!
All in all, just remember what I said in preparing beforehand on your presentation. Hopefully this blog post will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made today.
I’ll also be sure to update this post with footage of the event when my videographer Dave gets a break. Poor guy got a speeding ticket on the way back to Lafayette.
Good luck and happy presenting,
– Kenny Nguyen
PS: We wanted to say special thanks to three wonderful groups: 1) to the The Graham Group for inviting us to come speak, 2) the Acadiana Advertising Federation for sponsoring our event, and 3) The Acadiana Center of the Arts for having us at their venue. What a learning experience today for all of us and thank you for letting us play a part in this wonderful Innov8 festival!