Presentations & Video – Presentation Delivery Elective 2


Students will...

  • identify potential technical problems.
  • troubleshoot technical problems.
  • devise and apply solutions to technical problems.


Presentations involve many working parts and sometimes things go wrong. What if you show up and there is no projector for your presentation? What if your laptop dies 5 minutes before your presentation? This lesson will help you prepare for these situations so when they occur you can handle them with grace and professionalism. Remaining calm and professional when things are going wrong is a challenging, but an essential skill of effective presenting. Below are common technical problems experienced by presenters. You should be aware of these potential problems and prepare appropriately so if they occur you are prepared to address them and not let them derail your presentation.


Laptop Failure

The Scenario: You show up for your presentation only to discover that your laptop won’t start.

Sometimes, and it always seems to be when we need it the most, technology fails. For important presentations, be sure to have a backup plan. Have a copy of your presentation in an easily accessible location. The best option is a copy on a flash drive you carry, but you could also put a copy in Google Drive, DropBox or even sent to yourself by email. Just remember that if you do keep it online, you’ll need Internet access to retrieve it.

Software Failure

The Scenario: You have created your presentation in PowerPoint and are planning to use someone else’s laptop to present. When you copy your presentation to their laptop you realize they don’t have PowerPoint.

When you are relying on another device to present, be aware that it may not have the software that you expect. Some Mac users use Keynote which will not run a presentation saved as .pptx unless converted. Running a presentation created in a different version of Office (or moving between MS Office, LibreOffice, or Google Slides) may result in unexpected formatting problems or missing features (especially videos that no longer play).

To make sure you can still use your presentation, have a copy in PDF format. Any laptop can view a PDF. Although it won’t be as smooth to transition between slides (and you will lose transitions, video or animations), you will still be able to show your slides.


Try this before the situation occurs. Convert one of your presentations to a PDF and do a test run of your presentation.

Video Failure

The Scenario: You have your presentation on a flash drive to use on someone else’s computer. When you start to run an embedded video you get an error message saying ‘file not found.’

Recent versions of PowerPoint embed the video within the presentation, so your .pptx file includes the video file. Other software and earlier versions of PowerPoint may not work this way, and may only link to the video file. Be sure that you have the video file as well as the presentation file. Check to make sure you know how your presentation software handles video. It is best to do a test run of your presentation from the flash drive on a different computer to make sure that you have all the linked files needed.


Add a video file to your presentation. Make sure it is embedded by running your presentation on another computer. Does the video file play? If not, copy the video file to the other computer and try again.

Projector Connection Failure

The Scenario: You arrive at the classroom for your presentation and find it has the wrong cable connection for your laptop’s video port.

Many projectors have only a VGA cable. Bring an HDMI to VGA adapter if your laptop only has an HDMI connection and you are unsure of the projector capabilities.


VGA port

Newer projectors often have HDMI cables for laptop connection. If your laptop has a VGA port then you can feel pretty confident that you will be able to connect to most projectors.


HDMI port on a computer

Many Mac laptops use either a Mini DisplayPort or a Thunderbolt port to connect to a projector. These ports have the same size port, so they look the same except for the lightning icon (for Thunderbolt) next to the port.


Thunderbolt port on a Mac


Mini DisplayPort


USB C port on mac

USB C port


For these ports you will need an adapter to connect to most projectors.  You may want two adapters, one for VGA and another for HDMI.

Mini Display Port to VGA adapter

Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter


HDMI to VGA adapter

USB C adpater

USB C Adapter


Check your laptop and identify the ports it has that you can use for connecting to a projector. For College of Education classrooms, all projectors use HDMI cables. This may not be the case for other UH classrooms.

Projector Failure

The Scenario: You are about to start your presentation when the projector dies. There is no spare.

You may find yourself unexpectedly without projection (equipment failure, power outage, etc). Always have a hard copy of your slides available so if all else fails you can present without any technology.


Know your presentation well enough that you can run through it without your slides. Rehearse your presentation at least once without any technology. Can you do it?

Room Configuration Failure

The Scenario: The room you are presenting in has the projector in the back of the room and the cable won’t reach far enough for you to have your laptop at the front.

In some presentation spaces, you may be too far from your computer to advance the slides. You still need to present in front of the audience. As a low-tech option you could ask an audience member to advance the slides as you cue them, but a more professional option would be to use a wireless presenter (clicker). These handheld devices connect wirelessly to your computer to advance your slides from a distance. If you are unsure of the configuration of the room where you’ll be presenting, it may be wise to borrow or purchase a wireless presenter. Wireless presenters are available for loan to COE students in the Andrew W.S. In College Collaboration Center in Wist Hall (Wist 134).

Site Failure

The Scenario: You are in the middle of your presentation and, from a YouTube video link, you get an error message saying YouTube is blocked.

If you intend to use Internet content during your presentation be sure that you will be able to access that content from the specific location. Even if you are presenting in a room where you know you will have Internet access, there is always the possibility that network connectivity will fail.

If your content is essential for your presentation, look into downloading the content so you can play it offline. Some locations (notably DOE schools) have blocked certain sites and you will not be able to access them even if you have Internet access. Finally, not every site has Internet access available for presenters. Some conference venues do not offer Internet due to cost and other sites just may not have visitor access available. It is best to have everything you need for your presentation available in hand, rather than online.


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