Few presentations take place these days without a PowerPoint slideshow to support them, from in-person speeches to webinars. But many people are still learning the finer nuances of designing powerful presentations. There are many design dos and don'ts, and correcting those can help make a presentation more effective. There are however some PowerPoint fails that will stall a presentation completely, possibly leading to an awkward situation or general embarrassment.

It happens to the best of us. During the Tony Robbins keynote at the most recent Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, whoever was operating his slides kept displaying his points before he could reveal them to the crowd. It didn't happen too often, and Robbins is so skilled that he incorporated the issue into his talk with great ease. However, the problem stuck out and was noticeable.

Before your next presentation, it's important to know what could possibly go wrong to help you prepare. Here are some of the most common PowerPoint issues, along with tips on avoiding them.

Failure to Connect

When you arrive at your meeting site, you likely expect that you'll be able to connect to your presentation without problem. However, connection problems are common, whether you've stored your document in the cloud, on your own laptop, or on a flash drive. For best results, have your presentation in two or more places so you'll have a backup. If you use a Mac, be sure you have the appropriate cable to connect to a projector, since many projectors are equipped with adaptors for PCs. If you're using your own laptop, save it to the hard drive instead of relying on Wi-Fi. However, if network storage is a necessity, ask someone at the location to test connectivity before your arrival.

Stalled Videos

If you've incorporated a video into your presentation, you may arrive to find it won't play, even if you've tested it numerous times beforehand. There is a variety of complicated reasons it won't work but to get around those, use your own laptop for the presentation. You'll have the confidence of knowing it will play at the remote location just as it played in your own office. You can also save the file in a format that works with the device you'll be using, provided you have that information.

Fonts That Don't Load

As you're designing your slides, font may be an important part of the look you choose. The fonts built into PowerPoint should work across most versions of the software, but if you download or import outside fonts, you may be disappointed, especially if you're relying on someone else's laptop for your presentation. This is another area while bringing your own device can give you a freedom you won't have otherwise but if your backup is a flash drive, be aware that your fonts might convert to something unattractive or, worse, not display at all. For best results, embed your fonts into your PowerPoint presentation. It takes only a few extra seconds and can avoid complications on the day of your meeting.

Outdated PowerPoint Software

There will always be multiple versions of PowerPoint in circulation at any given time. This can even be true if you're doing a presentation within your own company. When you create your presentation, it's optimized for the version of PowerPoint you're currently using.

Your meeting site may have a significantly older version of PowerPoint or may have compatibility issues between Mac and PC. You can use Compatibility Mode to ensure your presentation will work with other PowerPoint versions. You'll see alerts for elements that might not work in other versions of the software ahead of time, allowing you to fix them before they become an issue during your meeting.

PowerPoint presentations can help you convey a message, motivating your employees to work harder or convincing potential clients to work with you. When you're well-prepared by eliminating any technical issues that could emerge, you boost the chances your presentation will be effective. Often this simply means bringing your own laptop with appropriate adaptors and having it stored as a backup on the cloud or an external drive.

Published on: Oct 5, 2016