I’ve talked about this tip before, but ran into the same situation again this month while doing a public speaking engagement in Morocco. The primary languages there are Arabic and French. Just arranging for an overhead projector was very difficult.
When I arrived as the opening speaker (after having confirmed three times an overhead projector and screen), none was to be found in the room. The manager of the gigantic ballroom could not speak English and because of tight scheduling of other events, I was not able to be in the room early as I always am.
I forgot to bring my equipment photographs which would have gotten the point across to the manager immediately whether he spoke English or not. It really didn’t matter though, because the projector he finally brought was so terrible I had to scrap all the overheads.
I am ALWAYS prepared for total equipment failure and went on with the program without hesitation. Tips when speaking in a foreign environment:
1. Have photographs of the equipment you need.
2. Have a backup plan and be ready to use it
3. When you leave you own country start smiling and don’t quit until you are locked safely in your bathroom (smile then too if you want to). Never get upset in public. Getting upset will only make things worse for you and your speaking engagement will suffer.