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Keep Tech Hiccups from Turning Into Showstopping Snafus With 3 Easy Tips

Oct 29, 2015

internet-brokenAt one point or another, we’ve all lived through an unexpected technical snag that threatened to derail a conference: the sound system blows out, a screen suddenly goes blank, or a speaker’s mic mysteriously goes silent. Frustrating as it may be, the lesson here is that technology is fallible. Although there may be little you can do to prevent such tech troubles, with a few best practices in your toolbox, you should be able to mitigate such glitches before they escalate into a showstopping snafu.

Stop Everything! (Yes, it’s Okay)
Although you may first balk at the idea, it’s important to realize that if you have a solution that can quickly solve a tech problem, it’s okay to momentarily stop proceedings, provided that you first acknowledge it. For example, you have just begun to play an important video when one of two large screens in the room goes black and half of the audience can no longer see the video. The solution? Before complaints begin to multiply, stop the video, acknowledge the malfunction, and give members the opportunity to move their seats before restarting the video. It’s an easy solution, and you’ll look responsive to your member’s needs in the process.

Have a Plan B…and C
Your keynote speaker is halfway through his presentation when the slide program quits and the laptop’s operating system begins to install a number of software updates. Now what?

In this case, the best practice is to have two (or perhaps even three!) laptops at the A/V table running the slides concurrently. That way, if the program stops working, you can quickly unplug the VGA cable and slide advancer USB from the malfunctioning laptop and seamlessly switch to the backup. Of course, this wisdom doesn’t just pertain to computers. Have extra microphones, adapters, flash drives, and batteries on hand as well, just in case the one in use mysteriously runs amok.

Build a Flexible Schedule
A/V troubles come out of the blue—and usually when you are squeezed for time and overwhelmed with other conference details. So in the event that your A/V professional needs a few minutes to address a tech hiccup, design a daily schedule that can be easily altered. For instance, make sure you can move a break or short video presentation to a different time slot, or if needed, pause a presentation and break into a group activity or Q&A session. Although such solutions are dependent upon each particular situation, the point is to build in some flexibility so you can easily readjust the schedule in the case of an emergency.

Technology hardly ever operates perfectly. Yet by acknowledging and adapting to glitches, having backup equipment on hand, and building flexibility into your schedules, you’ll be able to handle inevitable audio/visual issues in stride, with minimal effort, and with the least amount of disruption to your members.

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