episode 45: Things to Check Before Presenting

When do you start checking things for your presentation?

  • Troy: We start checking things pretty much when the presentation is confirmed, which can be months out. Mainly the technical details – aspect ratio, computer/software options, length of talk, etc.
  • Nolan: I always ask for all the info from the A/V company. Try not to let the client translate for you, sometimes details and key information are lost in translation.
  • Sandy: I also start when the project is confirmed.


Presentation software?

  • Nolan: PowerPoint is industry standard, but I’ve seen situations where the organizers prefer GoogleSlides, Keynote and sometimes converting everything to PDF.
  • Sandy: 99.99% of the requests I get are PowerPoint.
  • Troy: Overall, I feel PowerPoint is going to continue to be the standard for capabilities and use, but the number of online presentation apps is growing and I think they will be added to mix.


Aspect Ratio?

  • Nolan: “Widescreen”, especially for conferences, can mean anything. So getting that clarified if important.
  • Sandy: I always ask, just to confirm, but it has been 4-5 years since I have done anything in 4×3 for a conference.
  • Troy: At this point, I say 16×9, aka “Widescreen” is the default aspect ratio. 4×3 is not used much. But like Nolan said, “widescreen” does not actually mean 16×9. We use the term “ultrawide” for anything wider in aspect than 16×9 – and we do a lot of presentations in many ultrawide aspect ratios.


What about the presenter being able to use their own computer and any adaptors needed?

  • Troy: Bring your own adaptor, especially if your computer does anything other than HDMI.
  • Nolan: I agree, bring your own adaptor and don’t count on it being available from others easily.



  • Nolan: We rarely recommend using custom fonts that would need to be loaded onto a computer other than your own.
  • Sandy: I advise my clients to request a tech check and/or a practice to make sure they can project. At that time, they can look for anything funky — like fonts.
  • Troy: If you have a custom font, make it so other people working with your presentation know it is used and needed. PowerPoint does a horrible job of letting you know things are not going to display as designed. Keynote is better, but not perfect.


Presenter Notes?

  • Sandy: Depending on what the conference is providing and what the presenter is comfortable with, I customize notes/script as needed and work with the presenter to practice with similar technology as much as possible before onsite practice.
  • Troy: There are so many technical variations of how meetings are setup for this. Presenters should communicate what they want and confirm what is available so they show up prepared, not surprised.


Run through / stage practice?

  • Troy: Everything about your presentation, animations, colors and contrast, what you see, what the audience sees. As the presenter, test and confirm and be comfortable with how things are really setup for the meeting.
  • Nolan: No matter how simple you think your presentation is, it’s important to see every slide, play every video and every audio clip in the room with the actual equipment.



  • Troy: I cannot even remember the number of times a presenter computer has gone to sleep and needed a password, or how many people show up without their power supply. So if you are providing the computer, supply the power supply and have all profile settings adjusted.
  • Nolan: And what about Outlook notifications?
  • Sandy: Or automatic software updates?



  • Nolan: Make sure it’s working, that you know how to use it, that your support staff knows how it works. Make sure there’s a backup if you can have one.
  • Sandy: Remotes are not standardized so that’s why that tech check is so important. The presenter must become comfortable with the remote that is being used.
  • Troy: Your favorite mouse is most likely bluetooth or IR, which both have a range of 30′ – and that is with very little obstructions. Stages are full of tech equipment between the stage and the show computers. So again, test the remote on the stage. Have a plan of what to do if the remote does not work – be the professional and “on with the show” attitude that everyone will respect you for.


Internet access?

  • Nolan: If it is provided, sometimes access shuts off after a period of time and needs to be logged back in. Test and confirm just before you present.
  • Troy: Remember, are most likely using same internet as the 2,000 attendees. It will not be super-fast like the rehearsal time when a few dozen people were connected. Have an offline backup option; screen captures, video, slides, etc.


As a last topic of things to check before presenting, your outfit.

  • Nolan: Check your fly and don’t bump into the furniture.
  • Sandy: Find out what color the backdrop is and make sure you don’t disappear into the background.
  • Troy: Suit jackets askew with microphone wireless belt pack placement, have someone check everything looks good before you present.



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