If you have ever given a presentation, something probably happened that you did not expect. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
The host agreed to supply copies. You sent a master file but upon arrival there are no copies. The host agreed to supply audio-visual. Unfortunately, a memo was never sent and you arrive to a room with no projector, sound, or both. You arrive at the training location, only to discover it has been moved to another facility. You are expecting 30 participants and 4 show up.
If you have never been in a situation when things did not go as planned – then congratulations! However, the law of averages pretty much guarantees if something can go wrong – it will!
Here are a few suggestions when confronted with the unexpected:
Choose a positive attitude in advance of your arrival – As a presenter – your job is to make the event about participants. Simply put, training is not about the trainer. If a mistake is made, do not point fingers at the host and demand that your needs are met. Instead, politely ask what options are available and respond graciously and with enthusiasm.
Bring back-up resources – I always take a master copy of participant materials with me. In addition, I carry an extension cord, power strip, and if I am presenting locally, a back up projector. I will also run various scenarios in my head of how I will approach the training differently if the unexpected occurs. If you are able to “roll with the punches” then your audience will respect you for it and applaud your efforts to do the best in spite of difficult circumstances.
Technology is “A” tool, not necessarily “The” tool – There is tendency to become so enamored with technology that we often lose sight of the fact that technology in the classroom is a means to a learning end. There are many other tools that are still highly effective: Discussion, role-play, problem solving, case study, peer learning, etc. If a video clip does not play, or if an Internet connection is lost, will you crawl under a desk or will you say, “No worries – I prepared for this just in case!”?
Overprepare – if you are scheduled to teach for four hours, make sure you have some optional exercises to fill another half hour. Who knows? A non-talkative group may be one of the unexpected things happens. So, if you’ve built in discussion time, but no one is talking, you will have additional tools at your disposal to make sure that client expectations are met.
Expect the unexpected. As a trainer – you’ll be glad you did.