Know when to end it

There may be times when you can't solve a technical problem, and you simply need to end your meeting.

In this case, apologise for the situation that is out of your control and explain that you will email everyone to reschedule once the issue is resolved. If it can't be rescheduled, consider some form of compensation.

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Communication

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Handling a technical breakdown gracefully

The world we live in is controlled by technology, such as live streaming, virtual backgrounds, teleconferencing apps. While this is remarkable, it also comes with the potential for unexpected problems.

In the virtual world, we will face sudden mishaps at the most inopportune moments. When this happens to you, you'll need to know how to handle it gracefully, especially if it happens at work.

When you gain some focus, address the technical breakdown openly with your audience. Look at the camera and speak in a casual tone as if talking to a friend. "I just want to let all of you know that my screen just went black..."

If you own that you are experiencing a technical issue, that it is out of your control, and that technical problems are acceptable, you will come across as more human and someone people can relate to.

If your computer goes black, an embarrassing text pops onscreen, or your roommate charges into the room, your first urge may be to panic. You may start to sweat, and your heart will beat faster.

The next time this happens to you, remind yourself that the situation is not life-threatening. To re-focus yourself, take a deep breath and remember that most problems can be solved.

When a personal connection has been made with your audience, a little lighthearted joke is a perfect way to make the situation less awkward.

The goal is to break the tension. For example, if your roommate strides into the background playing his invisible guitar, say, "He'll be taking questions and signing autographs. Next slide, please."

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Connecting with an audience through a screen

Most of us have switched to working primarily online since March, and the initial excitement of virtual happy hours is long gone.

When having a video conference, keep in mind that you are talking to a group of individuals who are sitting at home alone at their computers. They have every temptation and opportunity to multitask.

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Not every presentation is linear, and you might prefer to jump back and forth from sections of your deck to a common "table of contents," so you can tackle the presentation in any order. This can be handy, for example, if you're using a deck for training or education. PowerPoint's Zoom feature is ideal for this.

Few things look as unprofessional as fumbling around trying to start your presentation in the PowerPoint app. But you can skip all that by setting your presentation to start instantly.

You can format any kind of chart so each segment animates individually. This can help you call attention to specific parts of the chart as you discuss it. Add a chart in the usual way, then:

PowerPoint lets you add objects — shapes, lines, arrows, text boxes, and other elements — to the screen, but getting them aligned can be tricky. You might appreciate knowing you can perfectly align any elements on the screen with just a couple of clicks. 

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