[This post is part of our series on Public Speaking in the Church]
In the previous post, we talked about the use of multimedia (by which I mean any and all tools you use in a talk, ranging from audio clips, to video, slides, object lessons, etc.). We stressed the importance of only using tools that reinforce your key message, your big idea.
Today, we’ll talk about the next step. Let’s assume you’ve found something you want to incorporate into your talk, whether it’s a video you want to show, or slides to put on the screen during your talk. What are some common mistakes and mess-ups you want to avoid?
Disclaimer: all of these examples happened. I wish I were making some of these up, but sadly, no.
Read and learn, please.
1. Notification Interrupt
When you use your own computer, make sure you turn off all notifications. I’ve seen presentations and videos interrupted by incoming Face Time calls, update notifications, new email alerts, you name it. So embarrassing.
2. Clear Your Desktop
Same thing is true for your desktop: make sure it’s clear of all personal stuff. You may think you’ll only show the slides, but if the tech person accidentally exits the program and shows your desktop (or anything else you have open), it had better be appropriate. Tip: choose a professional looking desktop picture. Just a thought.
3. Oops, Did He Really Just Say That?
If you show a clip from a movie, make sure the minute before and after your clip don’t contain any inappropriate content either. You don’t want to show a major F-bomb being dropped seconds after your clip because you couldn’t his ‘pause’ fast enough.
4. Print Your Slides
If you have a complicated slide presentation, make sure to print your slides for your own reference. It’s highly unprofessional (and quite annoying) if you keep asking the Powerpoint guy or gal to ‘go forward one more’ multiple times because you don’t know where the slide is you want to show. Also, this prevents you from tanking big time when for some reason the slides don’t work, since you’ll at least have a physical reference. I once watched a man squirm and flub through a presentation that turned out to be completely based on his Keynote—which he couldn’t get to work. Without a print out and back up notes, he was lost.
5. Test Your Video
I cannot stress the importance of this one enough: make sure to test the video you want to use. And test it well in advance. I learned this the hard way when I had coded a video on my Mac, only to discover the PC in our church couldn’t play that particular encoded file. It was my mistake entirely, but I didn’t discover it until it was too late and I had to cancel the entire video.
6. Test Everything Else, Too
Test anything and everything you want to use in the exact circumstances you’re planning on using it. This will prevent the following random mistakes: videos that won’t play, audio with slides that isn’t synchronized, a YouTube video that won’t play because the Internet isn’t fast enough, a presentation that can’t be used because the tech guy doesn’t know how to use a Mac and/or doesn’t have a Mac-to-whatever connection, a remote for the slides that doesn’t work, etc.
7. Fix That Typo
Ok, so this may seem like a small thing to you, but make sure to proof read your slides and correct all typos. You may not care and half your audience probably won’t, but there will be a few devoted members of the Grammar Police who will make your life hell for any typos. I will neither conform nor deny I’m a member of said group.
8. Slides Issues
While we’re on the topic of slides, this is where many things can go wrong. Aside from the aforementioned and often under-appreciated typos, there’s tons of stuff that often goes wrong here. Readability is a big issue, with a font type that is too small, or illegible against the background, or not readable for people who are colorblind (which affects more people than you’d expect). There’s also too much text on a slide, or the exact same text that you’re saying already (which is only allowed in literal quotes and Bible passages), slides that are too light or too dark to read on a big screen, pictures that are too low in resolution to show up well on a big screen, you name it.
9. Back it Up
I remember one cringe-worthy presentation where we in the audience ended up looking at the speaker’s back for the entire 20 minutes of his talk. That’s because his attention was glued to the screen. Beginner’s mistake? Maybe. But I still see too many experienced presenters almost intuitively look at the screen instead of at their audience when they’re showing something. Your eyes should always be on your audience and if you want to see what’s on the screen as well, make sure you have a screen either at the back of the room behind the audience, or a small monitor in front of you on the stage. Oh, and by the way: standing in front of the screen is just as bad!
10. Get Your Freak On
Even with the best prep, something can go wrong when using tech. Everyone will understand that, even the most critical audience. However, what they will have way less tolerance for is you freaking out over technical issues. Whatever happens, stay cool and stay kind and friendly.
I will never forget a pastor blowing up at a Powerpoint guy when the presentation froze—even though the guy couldn’t help it and was fixing it as best as he could (which was by rebooting, which happens to take a few minutes). Whatever the pastor said after that was lost on me, as I wasn’t willing to learn anything from him after that outburst. You can’t talk the talk unless you’re willing to walk the walk.
Ten categories of blunders we’ve covered here.
Do you have any more to add?
What cringe-worthy moments have you survived?
[Photo Credit: Lightstock, used with permission]