When presenting, leaving a single item to chance ensures that you will be at chance’s mercy.
As a frequent presenter and teacher at both photographic societies and software conferences, I try to carry multiple backups of those things which are a point of failure.
- Backup Camera
- Backup Laptop
- Backup Presentation Copies
- Extra Mouse
- Multiple Laser Pointers
- Paper Copies of Presentations
To this list, I now add a digital projector. Much of the material I present is either software demonstration or image-based. The adage that the “Speaker is the Presentation” while true, only goes so far when you are demonstrating software techniques or displaying imagery to inspire photographers. At times I, as a speaker, simply need to have the visual imagery at my disposal. Depending upon house projection is a recipe for disaster.
I was presenting at a local photographic society on using Photoshop to ‘Divide and Conquer’ an image by treating sky, water and land as three different types of light-media, adjusting contrast and color separately for each. Most of my presentations occur with my sitting at a desk with the projection happening behind me. Foolishly I seldom look over my shoulder to ensure that the image projected is the same as what I am seeing on my screen.
Halfway through this color-sensitive talk, an audience member said, “We can’t see what you are talking about. The image looks terrible.”
I turned and looked at the image and to my dismay, the red gun on the projector had failed and all the images looked a sickly green. I had no spare projector so I had to complete the talk with only two of three color channels. Disappointing and more importantly, ineffective in this case.
I arrived at a local Nature society to present a program on Badlands National Park. I was greeted by the speaker coordinator.
“Our person who brings the projector isn’t here,” she lamented. “We haven’t been able to track him down either.”
This time, having learned the lesson on points of failure, I had my spare projector. In no time, I was up and running. Normally I duck out after a presentation but this night, they next event required a projector as well. I graciously allowed my projector to be used by the next program and waited. Now I was a speaking hero, not only delivering my presentation but enabling those who were to follow.
This time I am at a corporate gig in a board/conference room. After building a 3-day meeting’s worth of digital presentations, I was reviewing and rehearsing with the corporate talent. That is, I would have been had someone with the company requested a projector from their IT department. This time, my projector was in my car and after a brief 10 minute pause to retrieve it and set it up, the meeting was saved.
Ultimately, they rented equipment from me for the their meeting to ensure that the live event went without a hitch. Added Bonus!
In each of these cases, the day was either saved or could have been saved by the backup of a single point of failure-namely a projector. Projectors are finicky machines that are problematic under good circumstances. They are often in short supply, in high demand and kept under lock-and-key. No one knows where the spare bulb, power cord, or VGA/DVI cable is either.
Many times I have wished for or been saved by a backup piece of equipment. I am always comforted when the venue has taken the time to provide quality equipment. At last Wednesday’ night’s Lightroom User’s Group for example, there was a house projector, an Adobe-supplied projector, and my own in reserve. Triple Backup! I love it!
Even better is when you present at an event like the Presentation Summit (the conference formerly known as PowerPoint Live) and they have multiple backups as well as AV techs to keep you running. At an event like that a speaker can relax and deliver. Not to mention, I don’t have to pack a projector.
Carry your own projector if you want to be absolutely certain you have all your points of failure covered. If you have calibrated your projector as have I, then you can be certain your colors will display properly with your laptops rather than take a chance on an ancient, mal-adjusted, incompatible behemoth. If a lamp blows or the cabling doesn’t match you can always bring out your own machine-a machine with which you are comfortable and carry on.
Short of a power failure, natural disaster, or act of God, you are covered-and so is your screen.
Projectors are expensive do-dads. Blowing a presentation for a professional speaker is far more damaging. The piece of mind is enough reason for me to invest in the equipment.
Rikk Flohr © 2010