Murphy's Law states: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." This is especially true and especially painful when there is an audience involved.

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What did you say?

Here’s a gem from meeting planner Deborah Elias’ piece describing the challenges she faced in putting together 3 events in 3 nights:

Never assume your vendors will share information, even among their own staff. Always verify that the appropriate people receive firsthand information for accuracy, then follow-up with a thorough conference call. Despite its convenience, email often leaves too much to interpretation.

Recovery Room

In his post “How To Recover From A Speaking FAIL,” Tom Webster recounts a typical story of hardware failure, offers some thoughtful recovery advice, and still manages to coin my new favorite neologism: “laptopocalypse”.

I gave a keynote right before lunch on how to think about data, and I was rolling right along when all of a sudden, exactly halfway through, my MacBook Pro crashed. Hard. Spinning-beach-ball-of-death hard. With 45 slides left to go. I won’t say I was “unfazed” but I hope I was unflappable. I’ve been standing up in front of clients and audiences for over 15 years, and let me tell you–something always happens, especially when you are doing client presentations, where you don’t necessarily have any support or backup.

I was humbled and grateful for all of the positive tweets I received during the speech for how I handled the laptopocalypse (I finished the story from the section I was on and took a few questions while I put a backup laptop online and got my slides off a USB stick) but it certainly wasn’t my natural reserves of cool that got me through it. It was training and practice. Learned behaviors. Since this sort of thing is bound to happen to you if you present in any capacity, I thought it might be useful to share exactly

And here’s another great point:

I will admit to being a little “nonplussed” when I see a speaker have a tech fail and then call for A/V because they are “no good with these things.”

Sticker Shock

Pack a backup? What for? I can always by one when we get there. It’s not like we’re going into the wilderness. I mean, how much can they jack up the price. It’s not going to cost so much that if impacts the budget.

Entire Content

David Craig’s post “Dealing with Tech Failure” includes, along with a couple other good tips,  a reminder of what it really requires to be completely prepared for video failure during your presentation.:

Video in a presentation is a tricky proposition even if everything works properly. Anything more than a short clip gets tedious for the audience in a hurry. But if you insist on including video in your presentation, be ready to describe the entire content of the video if it doesn’t play. That’s what TV newscasters have done for decades when the film, the tape or a live feed doesn’t work.

Might want to give some more thought to how important, how critical, that flashy piece of video really is to making your point.

Hot Stuff

It’s always important to have water at the podium. When the AC is out, it’s crucial.

[tweet https://twitter.com/JAD77/status/221722801978081281 align='center']

Social Media Fast

On a social media fast so things are going to be even more quiet around here than it has been recently. See you after Easter.

Overheard on Twitter: Critical event planners

[tweet https://twitter.com/KathyPhelps/status/161919000513744896 align='center']

PowerPoint Ninja: "Emergency Preparedness for PowerPoint"

Brent Dykes, The PowerPoint Ninja, strikes at the dark heart of a potential presentation disaster with this story of  uncooperative hardware and a decidedly nonsupportive support person:

What I didn’t anticipate was that the presentation remote would only work with the desktop computer in the auditorium.

No problem. I had all of the presentations also loaded on to a USB flash drive so I could transfer the files on to the desktop. However, in its infinite wisdom, the university’s IT group blocked any files from being installed on the desktop including a font file that one of the teams needed. After explaining the situation to an IT “support” person, he indicated nothing could be done before our event started. Aaagggh. Luckily, someone had brought their own presentation remote so we could just run the presentations from my laptop.

Often it’s easier said than done “to be prepared”, but we often focus so much on the actual presentation itself and forget the other small technical details that can completely ruin our beautiful slides and well-rehearsed thoughts. In reflecting on this recent situation, I had several takeaways for presenters who want to be more prepared for PowerPoint emergencies…

Check out the full post for Brent’s outstanding suggestions for being prepared when things like this happen.

Overheard on Twitter: Never trust the venue!

[tweet https://twitter.com/presentations/status/138987375991853056 align='center']

Playing keep away...

Keep the cup of coffee away from the equipment.

Keep the welcome reception away from the speaker’s slide review session.

Keep the speaker’s flight time away from the meeting’s start time.

Keep the USB drive with your presentation on it away from the washing machine.

Keep the social media apps with potentially indiscreet popups away from your show laptop.