We have all been there: a time when technology just isn’t cooperating.

Whether on a big stage giving an important speech, or whether it is “just” in an intimate team setting with people you’ve worked with for years, tech problems can really throw you off course.

lessons learned from a tech failure when presenting

When Tech Goes Wrong

I know this all too well, as the same thing happened to me while doing an in-person demo of eSign recently.

The overall objective of our session was to get team members introduced to eSign. My aim was to show them some of the functionality so they could start to envision how to use eSign in their daily workflow.

With everyone packed into a room, ready and eager to learn, the technology wasn’t working as it should.

As a result, the first half of the presentation I was unable to show them much of any technology! Oh the irony… Here are a few lessons I learned from this humbling experience:

Be More Prepared

Ever hear someone say, “The separation is in the preparation”? Let’s face it: most of us do a great deal of preparation around the content of our presentation. But a weakness can be not knowing much about the setting of where we’ll be presenting.

I thought I was fully prepared for the presentation, but that is where I had opportunity to be even more prepared. Instead of one or two potential back-up strategies or courses of action, I want four or five different courses of action to take if technology in some way breaks down.

I urge others to ask that same question: “What’s the worst case scenario and what will I do if that happens?”

Another form of preparation: what will you do or what will you say if you are totally unable to present or if tech goes down half way through? Is there anything else you can do to still utilize the time?

Yes, most of us do research in advance about technology or about compatibility of technology available when we present, but it’s really up to us, as presenters, to make sure there are no issues.

Stay Composed

It’s a little easy to look back and say that I could have been more composed and clear-headed once things started to go wrong. This is just an area that takes self-awareness and self-confidence to master, among other things. (Not to mention, we all know being more prepared can help you stay cool and calm when things go wrong.)

But my takeaway is this: when the technology wasn’t working as it should, I didn’t respond in the best way possible. It’s not that I was visibility upset, but my mind was racing, I wasn’t flexible enough, and I wasn’t owning the energy in the room anymore.

Said another way, I let the tension in the room grow and get the best of me. I allowed it to not let me think through my back-up plans clearly.

I also became unaware of how I was utilizing the awkward silence, but that leads me to my next point…

Know That People Will Show You Grace

While I was humbled and embarrassed by the entire experience, what I came to realize after is how much empathy people have. Remember that usually people are rooting for you.

Just think about it: if you’re giving them a presentation, why would they want to see you struggle or fail? In this case, the group—much to my surprise—really extended their kindness and grace to me. In the end, they genuinely thanked me for my time and for the presentation.

Bounce Back

A lot of technical failures when it comes to presenting can be avoided. If and when possible, I want to be in a position where I’m not as reliant on the technology to work as it should in the future, as crazy as that may sound when showing a web-based product.

This experience has been a gift because I hope it will help me have more empathy for others when tech fails or causes them trouble. And, it will help me be more prepared and better respond when tech inevitably fails again.

In addition, after finally being able to show eSign, I was open to getting their feedback on how the presentation went. I also made it a point to focus my energy on delivering high quality follow-up materials after that meeting. I felt that was critically important in our long-term relationship with our client. After all, I wanted to be sure we were maintaining our trust and credibility with them!

How Do You Respond When Tech Fails?

Ever had a tech failure or a presentation miss-step? Let us know some of your lessons learned!  

Kim Sykes

READ MORE: “Who Uses eSign by Edoc?”

Kim Sykes is a marketer at Edoc Service, Inc.