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The Weekly Might Have Missed List (12/07/08)

Empower Your Point: Context matters : Avoid turkey slaughter in the background — “While watching, it was very hard to focus on her : I totally missed the meaning of her interview. All I actually saw was this crazy man with his poor turkeys… I would much rather be an average presenter in an excellent context ( interested audience, computers working fine, etc.), than an excellent presenter in a horrible context ( say for instance with a turkey killer in my back)! Don’t get me wrong : Context is no excuse. It is your responsibility to make sure that everything is going to be fine.”

Corporate Presenter: Presenting on Television — “Even rehearsing your lines until you are blue in the face won’t always help you getting it right to camera.”

controlbooth.com: crappy cd player/bad cd??? — “So we’re up here in the booth, and randomly during an explosion cue, the cd player jumped tracks to curtain call music!! Nobody was touching the thing, and the sound consultant behind me said “that wasn’t you, it jumped a track”. Wtf????”

The Next Meeting: Virtual or Otherwise, You Need to Prepare for Meetings — “Let’s face it, the new technology available for virtual meetings, while exciting, isn’t quite perfect.  You need to make some allowances for that. If you’ll be making a presentation, it’s really important to practise it ahead of time.  Make sure it’s as clear as it can possibly be.  You may not have the benefit of your colleagues’ blank stares to tell you they don’t understand you, so you won’t be able to adjust on the fly.” Other good ideas.

Humor Power: When Humor Mis-Fires (Part Three) — “It had never occurred to me that this joke could mis-fire.  It got a good laugh, but as soon as I returned to my seat, I had second thoughts about using the line.”

Great Speaking Coach: Avoid Q&A Traps — “When you invite questions at the end of your presentation you run a substantial risk that one question derails the point of your whole presentation–and then you can’t recover your own momentum.”

Great Public Speaking: THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE — “I’m talking about the dreaded MICROPHONE BULGE. Unless you use a handheld microphone, or a wired clip on microphone (which causes you to trip over the wire all day) in one way or the other you have to deal with a wireless transmitter bulge in your clothing.
This needs to be addressed when you are purchasing the clothing you plan on wearing when you speak. … Sometimes I put the transmitter right in my pants pocket. That way there is no way it will fall off or come unclipped even if I get a little boisterous on stage.”

ChrisMoncus.com: How to Properly Wrap a Cable (the Over and Under Roadie Wrap) — Rolling up your cables (especially the one connecting your laptop to the projector) and storing them the right way helps to prevent them from failing when it might be more than a little inconvenient.

Hotel Chatter: You’d Better Find a Couch to Sleep on for Inauguration — Hope you’re not trying to do any regular business in DC around the 20th of January. Posted about this sort of thing a week or so ago.

PowerPoint Ninja: 13 Ways to Quickly Derail a PowerPoint Presentation — Part I — Starts with something dear to our hearts here at BML – “Technical difficulties: You and your audience are ready, but why aren’t the slides appearing or why isn’t the audio working? Delays caused by technical problems can cause you to quickly lose and never reclaim an audience. Leave nothing to chance.”

Just for fun:

Six Minutes: Gifts Public Speakers Really Want: Dozens of Christmas Ideas

Fortify Your Oasis: Weekend treat for Road Warriors — “As someone who has spent far too many nights in far too many hotel rooms around the world, these words of John Cleese’s have an all-too-familiar ring to them. Come to think of it, it sounds like I’ve stayed in some of these hotels.” (Video)

More Shameless Self Promotion: Nicholas Bate

(Sorry, I don’t want to get carried away with this sort of thing, but you know how it is.)

Author, blogger, business consultant and all around great guy Nicholas Bate was kind enough to name Breaking Murphys Law one of his blogs of the year for 2008.

‘Best Mainstream Topic Handled Differently Blog’ of 2008. There must a billion blogs on presentation skills. But Breaking Murphy’s Law does it differently. A great blog.”

Thank you for your kind words. And thank you for including me such a high-powered group of bloggers (Execupundit, Cultural Offering and Eclecticity). So much for my plan to “phone it in” over the holidays.

Bedd Gelert:

Just as I was beginning to get a little tired of reading my own stories here on BML, reader Bedd Gelert left a comment on a previous post that was begging to be front page material (BTW, I’m fairly certain that “Bedd Gelert” is a pseudonym):

Okay, technically this isn’t a ‘presentation’ disaster, but because it concerns a PC and a meeting where having it functioning was pretty well essential I will mention it…

I was pretty stressed, as I had to take details, onto a spreadsheet, of the issues on literally dozens of different items we were dealing with, on a Red / Amber / Green basis, with half a dozen people in the room and someone from IT, who had all this information, at the end of a phone line.

The computer wouldn’t work, as I couldn’t ‘sign in’ to it. I got more and more irate, as it kept rejecting my password. In the end I took to it to another room, got on the phone to PC Support and [there is no way I can shy away from this, and I’m not proud, but one has to tell the truth however ashamed I am … ] I went ballistic. ‘Why isn’t this pc working – I am about to go into a 2 hour meeting and I need this to be working NOW – Why isn’t it??’

Cue more weeping, wailing and a temper tantrum with PC support all to no avail. Of course, machines know when you are stressed and unreasonable and responding in the way I did. So I failed to get the PC working and had to resort to somebody else having to take over my role with their PC.

PROBLEM – I had inadvertently pressed a ‘Function’ key on the PC, which converted 9 keys on the right hand side of the keyboard into a ‘number pad’.

When I keyed in my ‘ID’ I used the numbers at the top of the keyboard.

But when I keyed in my ‘password’ I used the letter keys on the keyboard, some of which were being substituted by numbers – and there was no way I would realise this as the password is clearly only shown as dots when keyed.

MORAL – I could have been there for hours and not figured this out – but I had a fighting chance to do it quickly if I hadn’t lost my rag. And PC support would have had a small chance of sorting this out in a couple of minutes if I’d been courteous with them. But because this was a 1-in-a-100 problem, as soon as I got flustered and panicked I was done for.

Easy to say in hindsight, and in ‘cold blood’, but as we are always told ‘It’s nice to be important, but even more important to be nice..’ We live and we learn..

A long time ago, but still able to give me nightmares..

Bedd’s experience echos my earlier post about the staying in the Valium bubble. No matter how badly things are going, anything other than a calm, measured response is going to make the situation more difficult to resolve. Any losing of one’s rag needs to be saved for after the presentation is over.

Seems like something that will need to be added to The Principles. Just need to come up with a pithy phrase to describe it. How’s this sound: “Letting it loose might mean losing it all”? Yeah, I thought so. That’s just off the top of my head. It might be better to keep thinking about it.

Thanks Bedd, I really appreciate you taking the time to share this obviously painful memory. It serves as a great reminder to all of us who are dropped into these sorts of situations on a daily basis.

Your Turn:

Do you have a better idea than “Letting it loose might mean losing it all”? Have things ever gone from bad to much worse due to your losing it during a presentation or while preparing for one?