Four presentation tips so you’re ready for any disaster

Austin Govella
3 min readApr 19, 2022

Follow these four tips, and few disasters will throw your conference presentation off the rails.

Photo of the danger zone sign by Bernd Dittrich (@hdbernd) via Unsplash.

All kinds of trouble crops up at conferences and presentations. As people file into the room, you’ve made sure to communicate confidence and preparedness. Now you need to prepare for a few contingencies, so you’re ready for anything.

Block the 30-minutes before you speak

This is sacred time. Block it off. Prepare yourself to run around the conference trying to fix whatever problem that crops up right before you’re going to speak.

And if you’re not running around, this 30-minutes gives you time to put your contingencies into place. Lots of foreseeable disasters blow through conferences and session rooms. Because they’re foreseeable, you can have a contingency ready ahead of time.

Go to the bathroom

People don’t like it when you relieve yourself while they watch, so don’t go to the bathroom in the middle of your presentation. Go to the bathroom before you speak.

You don’t need to go? Doesn’t matter. Pretend you’re about to get in the car for a road trip, and your dad says he’s not stopping, so you better go now. Good thing you have that 30-minutes. I have wandered around several hotels and conference centers trying to find a bathroom before a presentation.

And don’t get nervous or stressed or distracted and forget. Add going to the bathroom to your checklist, so you definitely go before you speak.

While you’re in the bathroom, look in the mirror. Look at your hair, your shirt, your buttons, your zipper, your shoulders, and your face. Make sure none of your disguise has slipped, and you can still fool everyone.

Place water on or near the podium or table where you’ll speak

Have a bottle of water. With a lid you can close. If you don’t have one, then lucky you with 30-minutes to run around the conference to find one. Because this presentation is the one where you’ll get something caught in your throat, and cough so hard you actually have to pause the presentation, gasping for air while the kidney you’re coughing up occludes your airway.

Stash copies of your presentation where anyone can get to them

Have extra copies of your presentation where they can be accessed by anyone anywhere. This helps when you knock your water bottle over, soak your laptop-sparks flying-and it shorts out with a final, sad whiff of smoke.

You want the PowerPoint, Keynote, or Slides file you will present from on your laptop. You want a PDF version for when PowerPoint, Keynote, or Slides refuse to work on your laptop. You want both uploaded somewhere anyone can access. Like at the URL where your audience can download the slides.

Your laptop may die. Raise a tentacle if you’ve ever left your power cord upstairs in your hotel room. Your software may die. Your file may become corrupted. The wifi may die. The hotel’s computer could die or not have Keynote or crash because you have too many animations in your presentation. You might not have a dongle.

Save copies of both the presentation file and a PDF export where you or someone else can get to them.

What if you made an update to your presentation that’s not in the backups? No one will notice. They don’t know what the content was or is.

Follow these four tips, and few disasters will impact your conference presentation.


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Originally published at on April 19, 2022.



Austin Govella

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