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Principle #8: Existence does not equal adequacy

[UPDATE: This post outlines an addition to “The Principles”. The post that started it all is here. The most up-to-date version will be maintained at breakingmurphyslaw.com/the-principles/.]

A couple weeks ago, when I posted “The Seven Principles of Presentation Disaster Avoidance (Version 0.1 beta)” I knew two things right off the bat (even before all the great reader feedback I received):

  1. The title of the post didn’t do it justice. It was lame. Flat. It used the word “avoidance” for God’s sake. I’ve been kicking around other ideas. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.
  2. It would be a mistake to put the number of principles in the title because no matter how many I was able to come up with for the initial post, more were bound to follow.

And follow they did.

Here’s the first:

#8 Existence does not equal adequacy.

This somewhat poetic passage from a recent Ratphooey Live Journal post illustrates the principle in action:

I am writing this from a conference center in State College, PA.

A conference center that’s supposed to have wireless internet access.

Two measly bars does not wireless internet access make, my friends.

I had to walk down the hall to get a decent signal.

See what I’m getting at? If you were diligent and called the conference center ahead of time, anyone they allow to answer the phone would have told you that they have wireless internet access (“of course we have internet access”). However, having something and having something adequate to the task at hand are two very different things.

For instance, if you were downloading the most recent version of your presentation, the one containing the emergency, last minute slides with all of mandatory changes dictated by the CEO, and it was 15 minutes before you were due to go on, and you only had two bars, the wireless internet access, for all intents and purposes, might as well not even be there.

Some other presentation requirements that are susceptible to this issue:

  • Document duplication capabilities (“We have a copy machine” might mean an obsolete desktop unit without a document feeder that jams on every third page and doesn’t collate/staple). Always be sure to find out where the nearest Kinkos is before you leave.
  • On-site AV support staff (“I’m more a sound tech”, he said as he hit the automatic keystone correction button on the projector over and over again trying to figure out why the left edge of the image kept getting cut off.) If it’s you own equipment, you have a responsibility to know it inside and out. If it belongs to the venue, you might be out of luck.
  • “Business centers” in that part of the world known more for sipping rum-based beverages on the beach than for supporting high-level business presentations. (Remarkably easygoing hotel manager to distraught meeting planner: “They’re usually open by now, sometimes they don’t come in until the afternoon. Come check back a little later.”)

Just don’t ask if the venue has what you need — get details. Always go and check it out in person if possible.

Remember principle #1: “If you can’t do without it, make sure you won’t have to.”

3 comments to Principle #8: Existence does not equal adequacy

  • The title of the post could just as readily be applicable to businesses presence on social networks, which is what I came here to talk about. D'oh! :)

    To your point, though, thats why we'll never be replaced with robots, and why the collective technical education of the country needs to be raised.

  • The title of the post could just as readily be applicable to businesses presence on social networks, which is what I came here to talk about. D'oh! :)

    To your point, though, thats why we'll never be replaced with robots, and why the collective technical education of the country needs to be raised.

  • The title of the post could just as readily be applicable to businesses presence on social networks, which is what I came here to talk about. D'oh! :)

    To your point, though, thats why we'll never be replaced with robots, and why the collective technical education of the country needs to be raised.

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