A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (09/07/08)

Business Tech Talk: 10 tips to avoid PowerPoint disasters — “Presentations, however, almost always have tech hiccups, and this one was no exception. One of the earlier presenters, Douglas Wright, had problems with some of his charts, and midway through Chris’s segment the laptop running the PowerPoint presentation decided to go into hibernation. This sort of thing is funny for the audience and good speakers will make a joke and move on, as Chris and Douglas did, but it can throw you off your stride or happen just as you’re about to make a killer point.”

T J Walker: How should I ask to be introduced? — “Don’t just use a generic on-page bio from your web site or the resume you got to land your last job. What looks like a quick read on paper can seem interminably long and boring to an audience listening to someone introduce you.

The Daily Show: John McCain’s Big Acceptance Speech — There were some AV and stagecraft issues. You think this would have been ironed out in rehearsal. Skip to 1:22 if you don’t want to watch the rest of the political observations (although they are very funny). [Update: Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen fame covered McCain’s background graphics in more depth on his blog.]

[Your blood pressure just went up]: 1337 presentation skillz — Shares and critiques a useful YouTube video about presentation problems.

Valleywag: Google Video reborn as tool for awkward corporate messaging — You need to remember to be careful where you put video of your presentations. “The site makes it easy to “privately and securely” download embarrassing intra-office videos so that you can share them with us here at Valleywag.”

TechCrunch: Jason Calacanis’ How To Demo Your Startup (Part Two) — The entire series is interesting but section 14, “How to handle technical issues,” is especially useful.

YouTube: ABC’s Terry Moran Flub About Obama’s Parents on Nightline — Every public speaker’s nightmare.

ValleyWag: Watch RNC delegates trying to ignore Meg Whitman’s speech — Another public speakering nightmare. maybe this is usual behavior for the conventions whenever the speaker is one of the really major party figures. After all, there’s a lot of politicing that needs to get done.

Nicholas Bate: Get there early

Nicholas Bate is, among other things, a successful author and business consultantA recent post on his blog not only offered a useful and refreshingly pragmatic pre-meeting checklist, it also dovetailed nicely with a recent post of my own. Nicolas and I both strongly feel that it’s crucial to arrive at the presentation venue early enough to make sure every part of the environment you are about to preform in is in an optimal state. If the first time you step into the meeting room is two minutes before you step up to the lectern, you better be prepared for any number of things to go wrong. The story Nicholas was kind enough to share illustrates how showing up the day before made it possible to get a little extra sleep:

As you will know from Lee’s posts if there is one thing which enhances your chances of a great presentation, it’s preparation. And that’s certainly something I am committed to when I am delivering a work-shop or key-note. The preparation has two parts, ideally. Part 1: a quick ‘recce’ of the room the previous day/evening just to identify any surprises/challenges and get those resolved. Part 2 is getting into the room prior to the delegates to set up and get all perfect for them. This ritual has become tried and tested for me and hasn’t let me down, identifying many problems with enough time for them to be resolved.

Several years ago I was doing a lot of international travel and had just flown back from Boston, USA to the UK (my home). Poor diary management on my part meant I arrived back in the UK the day before my next work-shop. I arrived late at the location, gave the room a once-over and with the hotel staff sorted a lot of issues. Then went to bed exhausted, knowing we started at 0900. I awoke at 0840 having slept through two alarms! I jumped up, showered and grabbed my materials, ran down the corridor and arrived in the room at 0855. We started on time at 0900. The work-shop went brilliantly.

The lessons?

  1. The prior-day check up saved my skin. It’s worth doing if you can.
  2. Jet-lag can cause extreme exhaustion: set plenty of alarms!
  3. Manage your diary to avoid back-to-back big events: your mind/body needs some down-time.
  4. BUT here’s the real lesson. I had no time to do my normal prep on that morning, run through my notes etc., but it went went really well, anyway-which was a real lesson to me that we can over-prepare. That is, if we basically know our stuff (which we should do, of course!) a ‘flow’ state can be reached where by people get an ‘even better’ experience: more real, more connected. Athletes call this being ‘in the zone’ of course.

Something to think about!
Thanks to Lee for inviting me to post

I usually make a point of trying to take a some time to chat with the people who work for the venue when I’m on site. I like to hear their stories about the unusual things they’ve seen happen in the meeting rooms. It never ceases to amaze me how often their stories are about speakers that come bustling into the meeting room minutes before they are scheduled to go on (which I guess means it actually isn’t all that unusual). They hand off their slides to the AV crew on a thumb drive hoping against hope that they will project correctly. They stop for a second so the sound guy can slap on a lavalier (sound check, who has time for a sound check?). They have no time to familiarize themselves with the remote control, the stage, the podium. At this point it’s far too late to change or fix anything that might detract from the audience’s experience. This is the situation Nicholas would have inadvertently been in if he hadn’t taken time to check things out the night before.

Your turn:

Has there ever been a time that you wished there was more time devoted to on-site, pre-presentation preparation? Were you ever really, really glad you had a chance to spend extra preparing? Please share you experiences in a comment to this post.

Overheard on Twitter: The “you’re doing it wrong” edition