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  • Pip Mcdonald

Much Ado about Tech: Panic, Platforms & Presentations

In January 2019, I delivered a presentation at a National Government Organisation (NGO) in London exploring how we could use technology as a platform to explore peace.

When I arrived, the technology had broken. The PowerPoint slides I had spent hours creating were not able to be shown. Although the presentation explored peace and technology, the opposite seemed to be true; I did not feel very peaceful. What would everyone think?

The critical question is: what happens when you work in technology, but the technology lets you down? The same situation happened again during a presentation later in the year. The screen had frozen. Panic again. What would people think?

So what did I do? How did I cope? As my mum says, “You have to soldier on!” Technology cannot do the ‘coping’ for us, we have to.

A bizarre thing happened; the fact that the technology stopped working gave me an unexpected opportunity to not have to rely on it to deliver the core message. A happy accident.

We are obsessed with screens. All I had left was myself and an audience. In fact, this was a gift. The feedback from the audience was that the part of the presentation I delivered after the technology stopped working was more engaging than the part with the technology working. So what can we learn?

Perhaps we can learn that we are the message, not the technology. Whilst the technology can enhance our message, it cannot replace it. I learned to care a little less about how badly the audience thought of me if the technology stopped working.

It is important to acknowledge the majority of audiences care and they want to see how we handle the ‘unexpected’. How can we be more responsive and playful in our reactions to the unexpected? Surely this is more exciting and engaging.

One of the mobile phones of the audience rang during my presentation; how could I turn that into a fun point? Was I sufficiently passionate about what the content of my presentation and core message to stand and deliver without technology?

The answer, for all future presentations, has always got to be ‘yes!’ This is the acid test. The technology can be the platform, never the person.

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