It’s fair to say I have seen hundreds of presentations over the years from lots of different speakers: I’ve seen some speakers deliver fantastic presentations and I’ve seen (and experienced) a few disasters… yet with those haven’t gone well, the failure could have been avoided with a little forethought.

One of the biggest mistakes speakers can make is to overlook the smallest but most important of details in planning for their speaking gig… and the biggest error that will almost certainly guarantee failure is…

Failing to check your presentation will work!

Hiding From PresentationOk, so you’ve created an amazing set of PowerPoint slides with lots of compelling copy, whizzy videos and audios embedded, interesting pictures… and you’ve spent hours bringing it all together to craft this awesome show for your audience… then you get on stage… and nothing happens!

Your presentation doesn’t work!

Imagine how you’d feel stood in front of 100 or 1,000 people and the main element of your gig just hasn’t turned up?!

So today, I’m going to tell you my tips for how you can avoid finding yourself in this embarrassing and costly nightmare.

Back up!

Depending on the event organisation, sometimes you will deliver your presentation from stage using your own laptop… other times you will need to load it into a laptop that is already at the venue.

ProjectorEven if you will be using your own laptop, I strongly recommend you take a spare copy of your PowerPoint on a USB stick just in case you need it. If your laptop doesn’t load and you have to transfer it elsewhere, with no external back up you’re stuck!

Don’t rely on Wi-Fi

Never embed videos or audio directly from a website… if your laptop won’t connect to the wireless network or there is no connection, your videos and audio will not play!

I once watched a presentation where a speaker delivered a great build up to a couple of video testimonials, pressed the button to play the videos and they wouldn’t play! Download any videos and audio to a location on your computer first.

That leads me onto the next tip…

Keep everything together in one location

Create a folder on your computer and in this folder save your presentation PLUS any images, video and audio you use. When you back up to your USB stick, back up the folder, not just the PowerPoint file.


Because if you have to move your presentation to another laptop and your PowerPoint is looking for files in C:/My Documents/[Your name]… the folder won’t exist in someone else’s laptop!

Testing 1… 2… 3..!

Before your presentation is due to start… ideally when you first arrive at the venue, connect your laptop to the projector and check it all displays properly on the big screen. Walk to the back of the room to make sure everyone can read the slides and it all looks as it should.

If there is a problem with playback it is far better that you know early on when you have time to make any amendments. rather than waiting until you are on stage for real and it is too late.

Don’t forget power!

Blue Battery Is your laptop fully charged? Is there enough power to take you to the end of the presentation and do you have the power cable with you just in case?

I’ve got to put my hands up to this… I once went on stage having forgotten to charge my laptop and right at the critical moment when the laptop shut down ten minutes in… realising I’d left the power lead at home too!

That wasn’t my finest moment so please don’t make the same mistake! I was lucky that I knew my presentation well and could deliver it without the slides… but it didn’t have as much impact as it should have yet it could so easily have been avoided!

That leads me nicely on to…


If you should find yourself in the unfortunate situation of not being able to use your presentation, you will need to do your very best to minimise the impact of that loss on your audience… make sure you know your presentation inside out beforehand!

Learn it and practice it… your audience will know if you are winging it and it won’t look good on you!

Have you experienced this yourself? Do you have any confessions or stories you’d like to share with me? Please leave me a comment… I love reading your stories.

This month I am running my 1 day Presentation Secrets events on 3 dates in London. During this intensive 8 hour event, you will learn the 4 and a half secrets that made me a millionaire from speaking in a year and come away with all the tools you need to successfully sell from stage immediately.

The 3 dates are

Friday 11th May 2012

Saturday 12th May 2012

Friday 25th May 2012

GO HERE for more details and to book your place.

There are now only a few seats left for each date so I urge you to book your place today if this event is right for you.

8 Responses to “The 1 Mistake That Will Kill Your Presentation From Stage”

  1. Good post. I host a monthly meetup group with guest speakers, and it happens regularly that a guest speaker comes unstuck due to technical issues. I have a backup laptop, USB stick, etc, ready to help them recover. But like you say video / audio issues are always a problem. The only thing you didn’t mention was to show up with enough time to test everything. Aaron

  2. thanks for this Joanna – very timely! I am preparing for a workshop I am presenting tomorrow – I looked at my powerpoint on my laptop yesterday & it has text items all over it! I have no idea how to get rid of them, so I am sooo pleased I looked at it, so I am now writing up my flipchart pages! Also writing it out is helping me prepare and rehearse. Thanks again – better get back to it!

  3. Joanna –

    What a great post. I have spoken quite a few times now and have become pedantic about having backup “EVERYTHING’s”, as I have been caught out once or twice on different pieces of technology that didn’t work as expected. Thank you for validating my preparation routine. 🙂

  4. I always say you can’t ever have enough memory, always back up your back ups! Great info., thanks for sharing the tips.

  5. Hi Enza-
    Ive just found Crashplan for backups. It works in the background. Love it!

  6. Hi Jennifer,
    Absolutely. A little bit of OCD on the front end saves a lot of Anxiety during and Depression after 😉

  7. Hi Lynden- that problem sounds annoying!. Did you google the problem? Google knows how to fix everything Ive found!. Good luck with the presentation
    J x

  8. Hi Aaron,
    Great tip… plenty of time to test is the key!
    Thanks for the reminder.
    J x

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