The Traps and Tricks of Presenting to Audiences Live off the Web

Over the last few years I’ve conducted hundreds of live off the web presentations for various audiences, in many different rooms and venues. There must be at least 267 ways in which a tech driven presentation can come unstuck; hopefully you can avoid some of the more obvious traps – all derived from my painful first-hand experience – as well as take on a few other tricks.

Firstly, My Presentation Rig…

  • Apple MacBook Air; 100% flash drive = ultra fast boot-up time, and a super long battery life.
  • Wireless mouse with spare batteries handy.
  • 3G wireless modem.
  • High-gain external antenna; adds 2 bars onto any wireless signal (invaluable kit – has saved me numerous times).
  • Back-up wireless modem on an alternate network.
  • Data projector which supports super-sexy widescreen 1240 X 800 resolution.
  • External speakers,  AC powered for sufficient volume in larger rooms.
  • Extra long VGA cable for the data projector – allows me to sit at my laptop anywhere in the room.

The Venue – General Set-up and Using other People’s AV Equipment

  • Get to the venue at least 90 mins before presentation time; give yourself sufficient opportunity to fix anything that’s not working (I always count on something not working).
  • If there’s no back-up internet network, i.e. an in-house wireless and/or ethernet connection – avoid presenting in a windowless room as this will weaken your wireless signal.
  • If it’s a conference venue check out the set-up the evening before – it’s easier to get things sorted out then than put yourself under the time-pressure pump in the morning when the show has or is about to get started.
  • Don’t forget to plug your power cable in (also fully charge your batteries prior).

Using Somebody Else’s Network Connection

  • Ensure you have sufficient ethernet cable to reach from your laptop from their socket location.
  • If using a restricted wireless network get the network login details beforehand.
  • Ensure there are no network restrictions on any sites, esp. social media platforms.
  • Ensure there are no data limits (or chocking) – common on public networks within hotels or conference centres.

Using Somebody’s Else’s Computer/ Laptop and Browser

  • Get familiar with their browser – many people use older versions which should have been retired years ago.
  • Test the browser – what page is their ‘homepage’ set to? When hyperlinking to a new site is the browser set to open a new tab or a new window (these little things can really throw you when you’re in front of a room full of people).
  • Ensure Flash is installed if demonstrating any sites requiring it (e.g. Google Analytics).
  • Recalibrate your bookmarks (I use Delicious, but I still need to login to my account).
  • Make sure there are no browser plug-ins missing that you would normally use.

If plugging into somebody’s else’s data projector

  • Extra long RGA cable to reach to their data projector.
  • Test-run for optimal screen resolution off your laptop.
  • Make sure your laptop doesn’t go into power-down or sleep mode if idle (important if there are speakers on before you).

Full Online Access to all Presentation Related Files and Information

  • Google Sites (Wiki)- online storage of my hyperlinked run-sheets, and all online app login details.
  • Delicious – my online bookmarks, all keyword tagged.
  • Dropbox – online storage of my synchronised, latest version, multi-format presentation files.
  • Highrise – my online contact management system (good for tracking down anyone’s phone number at the last minute).

Photo by savethewildup

Are you talking to your customers?

“You need to increase your efficiencies, drive down costs and create new markets or respond more eloquently to market needs. It’s about listening to your customers and creating products that make more sense to them [in] this environment. [Liza Boston – Cracked Pepper chief executive]

Source: THE AGE – 15/5/09

Moving along the information superhighway

The single most important thing to understand about then internet and how it is being leveraged by marketers and customers alike is this: for the first time in the history of humanity, it is as easy to create content as it is to consume it.

Source: MARKETING MAGAZINE – 21/4/09

Why do people love Google?

I find it difficult to picture a time in my life where l haven’t relied on a Google product of some sort to help me through my day. Gmail. Check. Analytics. Check. Reader. Check. Blogspot. Check. Calendar. Check. Toolbar. Check.

Source: MARKETING MAG – 31/3/09

Obama’s internet campaign success

For example, the campaign created more than 1800 YouTube videos, which were viewed more than 50 million times and with the average time spent watching the videos hitting 14 minutes.

Source: THE AUSTRALIAN – 20/2/09

Using the bush telegraph for bushfires

While less traditional than the trusty wireless, the internet, too, played a crucial role in the news process yesterday, with user-generated content featuring prominently on many news sites.

Source: THE AUSTRALIAN – 11/2/09

The price to pay for net neutrality

As the world’s largest carriers and content providers prepare to lock horns over the contentious issue of net neutrality in the US, analysts in Australia are calling for a more pragmatic approach to designing this country’s broadband future.

Source: AFR – 29/12/08

Smartphone technology in the dorm

Brown and about 100 other students living in the same dorm at MIT have agreed to swap their privacy for smartphones that generate digital trails to be beamed to a central computer. Beyond individual actions, the devices capture a moving picture of the dorm’s social network.

Source: AFR – 4/12/08

A whole new way to homestay

Oh yes, homestays can be a real nightmare. Which is why we’re only willing to rent out a beanbag rather than a full bed. You can’t really have a nightmare if you can’t get to sleep, can you?

Source: AFR – 6/10/08