I have no advice to offer this week. I only have a question. What should we do about the issue of technology and presentations?

Let me tell you why I’m asking: Last week, I attended an event that featured 4 speakers, each of whom spoke for 8 minutes (ahem, there’s a brevity trend in our midst, I love it! #brevity #jocktalkbook). Each of the fours speakers was amazing. Their content was fresh, meaningful and tight, and everyone’s delivery was impeccable – they were poised, energetic, animated and kept their eyes on the audience at all times. Not a single flaw among the four.

But guess what? The technology failed and caused bumpy starts – followed by some fits and starts – for two of the four speakers.

I probably should mention before I go any further that the meeting was hosted and attended by technology professionals. Probably 100 of them, maybe more. Ergo, “user error” – or being unfamiliar with the equipment or software, as might happen with someone like me – can be scratched off the list of culprits.

So, here we are.

Technology fails. It does. And there are consequences. It wastes time. It dilutes the impact of a speaker’s opening. It forces an otherwise superstar speaker into an unexpected awkward moment. And perhaps worst of all, it causes the audience to roll their eyeballs (at least figuratively if not literally) and divert their attention to a side conversation or to their devices while they wait.

Ay caramba!, as Bart Simpson would say.

What should we do about this? It’s not even just a possibility that technology might fail, it’s more of a likelihood. We know this, don’t we? Yet we still bring our best stuff to a presentation on a flash drive or a laptop. The only thing I can think of is that we must be using some finely honed skills of denial, then holding our breath during set-up, and ultimately hoping for the best. I’m an optimist too, and that last sentence describes me too, but only sometimes. I have my own little over-compensation back-up plan. But not everyone does …

So what should we do about this? Visuals are awesome, but technology can be problematic – for speakers and their audiences. Thoughts? Ideas? Alternatives?

Weigh in, technology lovers!

Beth Levine