Even the greatest speakers make mistakes, but the hallmark of a great speaker rests in how well he or she adapts when such mistakes occur. For example, if the battery to a presentation remote fails mid-speech, a great speaker has already thought of the “what ifs” and adapts accordingly, walking calmly over to the computer keyboard and using the space bar to advance the slides instead, without skipping a beat. Or, in the worst-case scenario, perhaps a projector light bulb burns out and a speaker has only brought a PowerPoint presentation. A great speaker will have a backup plan in place, having brought printed copies of the slides to hand out in such a situation. While handouts might not seem ideal and break the rule of handing things out during the speech, they offer a better alternative than having no visuals at all. Additionally, as the audience sees this level of preparation and foresight, it automatically increases the perceived level of credibility.
Test all technology before the presentation. Often, what works on a personal computer at home may not work on the computer available at the presentation venue. Differences in operating systems such as Mac vs. Windows, versions of presentation software, or even different browsers (Firefox vs. Chrome vs. Safari) can cause drastic differences in the way a presentation appears (or even whether or not it will function). Not only should speakers test everything before speaking, but they should also preset the system volume, ensure all links to outside media work, and have a backup plan ready in case of a system failure.