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.



This blog was active from April, 2008 to July 2012.
It is no longer being updated. It will continue to be maintained for reference purposes.

Question of the Week: Who are you?

In order to make this blog as useful as possible, I’d like to get a better sense of who is visiting. Please take a moment and answer the following using the poll displayed near the top of the left sidebar.

Are you usually:

  • A presenter with a support team that handles your technical and logistic details?
  • A presenter who handles all of your own technical and logistical details?
  • Someone who supports someone else’s presentation efforts by handling their technical and logistical details?
  • None of the above.

It would also be greatly appreciated if you could provide a little more detail about what you do by submitting a comment to this post. For instance, what sort of environment do you operate in? Corporate? Academic?

I plan to use this information when making choices about post subjects and how to go about discussing a particular subject. I know one question isn’t going to capture everything I need to know so keep an eye out for further noseyness in future Questions of the Week. Thanks for taking the time to participate.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (06/22/09)

Zallas Technologies: Managing Meeting Mayhem — “You start the meeting, only to be interrupted by two or three latecomers. As you glance around the room, people are busy sending text messages on their cell phones and whispering quietly to each other. What about the meeting? How do you even try to compete with all of these distractions, not to mention the rambling storyteller and the constant disagreement between the two at the end of the table?”

Speak Fearlessly: How to deal with the “Stump the Chump” dynamic in Public Speaking — ““Stump the Chump” refers to an audience member who may be disruptive or hostile; often expressed through repeated questioning meant to challenge a speaker’s authority and possibly steal the spotlight.”

Great Public Speaking: LapTop Volume — “Here’s a quick way to handle the volume when you do not have a sound person in the room.” and BACKWARDS — “The problem was, he started at the wrong end of the pole.”

SpeakerSue Says: The 2 Biggest Mistakes Presenters Can Make — “For example, you could: Faint, throw up, ramble, bore, forget, amble, become parched, blush, not know, say too much, say too little, humiliate yourself, not be funny, stutter, not shut up, patronize, condescend, shake, and in general make a mess of yourself. But wait, there’s more.”

Colorado Communication Coach: What I Learned from Scathing Criticism — “Then, on the backside, he or she typed out a numbered list of all the mistakes I made in my presentation…”

Gathering: don’t poison your attendees — “Seems like an obvious statement, but how often do we consider ALL of the ways we could be harming our guests?!”

Mother Tongue Annoyances: How to Attain Serenity Before Giving a Speech — “However, in my experience as a technical trainer, IT professional, and astute audience member I have seen not an insignificant number of public speakers blow otherwise fine presentations by needlessly psyching themselves out due to mishandled fear or over-jangling nerves.”

Overnight Sensation: Career Success: How a Crisis Can Become Your Opportunity for Greatness –Try to keep this in mind the next time the presentation is going to hell in a handbasket.

Life in the Corporate Theater

is an AV/IT tech in the corporate presentation business. He gets to travel all over the world staying in some really glamorous places doing some rather unglamorous work. If anyone in the world is intimately acquainted with Murphy’s Law and how to go about breaking it, it’s Steve and the army of pros like him who keep all those meetings moving. And he has the stories to prove it. You can read them on his blog — Life in the Corporate Theater. Here are some excerpts:

Rob hadn’t gotten any of the presentations last night. They didn’t do an official slide review. This morning, they came in with a whole bunch of presentations for him to load up.

The agenda showed about 8 presentations, and they handed Rob about 15. He ended up having to string all these slides together, and things still seemed weird. There was a presentation in there that had a thank you slide at the end of it, and then another 15 slides after the thank you. So, things were pretty unsettling this morning. Continue reading Life in the Corporate Theater

Alltop? How did that happen?

Alltop, all the top stories I’d like to thank Guy Kawasaki and his team for including Breaking Murphy’s Law on Alltop’s public speaking site. I’m as honored as I am surprised. After all, Breaking Murphy’s Law is only a little more than two months old. I’d also like to that anyone who suggested BML to them as they we deciding who to include.

Alltop is a really great idea. It can be thought of as a “digital magazine rack” designed to “help you explore your passions by collecting stories from ‘all the top’ sites on the web.” (Alltop. All the top. Get it?)

They have pages for over 60 topics and they’re adding more all the time. Check it out. I guarantee you’ll find a really useful or cool site you had no idea existed.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (6/08/08)

LetZcommunicate: “Speaking of Nightmares” — Seven presenting nightmares, seven really useful lessons learned.

Pro Humorist: “Pulblic Speaking: Hecklers” — “This is important because you are the speaker so you are in the position of power.”

Business Presentations: “Get the Hook: When Speakers Hog the Spotlight” — Great tips for gracefully helping the longwinded away from the microphone.

About Projectors: “ASUS Laptop Has Built-In Projector” — “Another reason you might want this projector in your laptop is because you could have forgotten your portable projector at home when you almost missed your business flight.” It always pays to have a backup.

While we’re on the subject of backups, Fleeting Glimpse Images tells the tale of what happens when equipment unexpectedly meets water. Although Rikk is writing about photography rather than the presenting business, there are enough parallels between the two to make this of interest to those seeking to break Murphy’s Law. “This exercise proved to me that I cannot out-plan disaster but I can plan to cope with it should it strike.”

Eye for Image Blog: “It never hurts to listen“: A Murphy’s Law moment that turned out for the best.


HousekeepingI’m going to be doing some general housekeeping on Breaking Murphy’s Law this weekend. One of the major tasks is going to be tidying up and reorganizing the way I categorize posts. Why am I telling you this? I’ll need to go back and recategorized the posts that have already been published (which is why this needs to be done sooner rather than later). Unfortunately, the recategorized posts might show up in your feed reader again as new posts and I just wanted to give everyone a heads up. Enjoy the reruns.

Question of the Week: Five Finger Discount

hamburglarA recent post on Blue Room (a discussion board for folks who work backstage) deals with an interesting subject: “How much stuff have you had stolen?” I’d like to continue the discussion here since having equipment stolen is most definately a case of Murphy’s Law.

Using the poll in the left sidebar, please answer the following:

Have you ever had any equipment stolen?

  • Yes, I’ve had mission critical equipment stolen (it was a really, really cruddy day).
  • Yes, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t live without (at least temporarily).
  • No, I’ve either been seriously lucky (knock on wood) or I’ve been very cautious.

If it’s not too painful, we would all really appreciate it if you would be willing to share what happened in a comment to this post. What was stolen and how did they do it? Did you get it back? Any lessons learned that you would like to pass on to the rest of us?

If you haven’t been in this difficult situation, what procedures (if any) do you have in place to prevent it from happening? Or are you just seriously lucky?

There are a couple aspects of this issues that might be worth a closer look. For instance, are there particular types of venues that are more likely to become crime scenes. Is equipment more vulnerable in transit or at the venue?

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (6/01/08)

Dr Simon Raybould anticipates that the architecture of the room he is presenting in might present some challenges — Tiers to tears. Accurate Pronunciation How Do I Say…? A List of the Most Mispronounced Words.

iDoctor: Happy Birthday USB Flash Drive! — I guess sometimes good things can come from bad presentations.

Speak Schmeak: A great idea for getting the laptop show ready.

Seth Godin: Sorry to talk so long… — You don’t need to say you’re sorry.

Speak Fearlessly: Stage Fright.

Speak Schmeak: Lost your place?

Salling Clicker is our award-winning remote control software. It lets you control popular applications from a mobile phone or handheld computer through a user interface similar to a portable media player. Read on to learn more about Salling Clicker, and why we know you are going to want it for your Windows PC.

Gathering: honey, i’m [sending a bunch of stuff] home! — “Here are some quick and easy things you can do to ensure your return shipment doesn’t cause you headaches!”

Connexion! Communication Central: Power Failure – How Not to Use Your Body….

Corporate Presenter: Presenting Under Pressure — “These American presenters really know how to lose it!”

Corpreform: Laser pointer too complicated for partner at Skadden.