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Rick Pillars: Rehearsal, Rehearsal, Rehearsal

“Rick Pillars, an 18-year AV pro and owner of It’s a Rap Productions sent me the following vignette in response to an earlier BML post:

©iStockphoto.com/abzee

©iStockphoto.com/abzee

This is actually a pretty typical scenario. We just spent two or more days setting up for the General Session. On Day 3 we come in and from 7am-8am we run the equipment and troubleshoot any and all issues. We tape down cables and get it all cleaned up. We were also scheduled to have rehearsals from 8am-11am. At 10:30am we are told to stand-by for Rehearsals. Woohoo. Thanks for waiting until the last 30 minutes of the scheduled rehearsal time.

The show begins at 3pm so we have time to knock out rehearsal and go to lunch and be ready and fresh for the main speakers. 11 and then 11:30 comes an goes. Finally at 1pm the second of three presenters comes in. Then it begins.

Slide 1 is good to go. Slide 2, can we change what that says. No, not like that…yeah, like that. Slide 3 gets changed. And so on and so forth. Our rehearsal is more of a PowerPoint editing session. After that, the TelePrompTer gets edited to fit the new content. We have two more presenters to go including the Main or first speaker.

And the entire crew is sitting there talking about food. Wondering if we are going to get a chance to eat. Wondering why no one seems to ever think about the fact that actual human beings sit behind that equipment and they have needs too. We can’t cut anyone to go and get food. Everyone has a vital function to fulfill. We can’t order in because most delivery drivers have no concept of where to bring such a delivery inside of a hotel. We are stuck. And hungry. And we need to go to the bathroom. Gripe, gripe, gripe.

We finish up rehearsal (such as it was) about 10 minutes before doors. In that time we have to go to the bathroom, get something to drink if we can, and the smokers have to go fulfill their need. Yes, we do make some big bucks to do what we do, but we sure wouldn’t mind if it were remembered that we need sustenance also.

A couple things grab my attention in this story:

  • If you are in a leadership role guiding a team through the presentation preparation process, first make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the differences between a slide review and a rehearsal, then don’t let time that should be devoted to rehearsal become a slide review. A real rehearsal this late in the process has the potential to actually make the presentation better. Doing a last-minute slide review and tweaking session might make the slides better,  but it’s not likely to do the presentation any good. (See Principle 9)
  • For God’s sake, take care of your people. And yes, even if they are contractors, the AV crew is “your people”. You depend on them to perform at the absolute best of their ability. They can’t do that if they are  hungry, thirsty and/or exhausted. It’s perfectly acceptable to expect them to go to heroic lengths in an emergency situation but it’s best to avoid operating in hero mode unless absolutely necessary.

Reminder: InfoComm survey

The Presentations Council over at InfoComm International is surveying all of us presentation professionals:

ARE YOU A PRESENTATION PROFESSIONAL?

Compare yourself with your peers in InfoComm International’s annual Presentation Professional survey. This year it’s shorter, easier and faster to complete. Whether you’re one of many in a corporate setting, or a one-person shop wearing all the hats, see how you compare in the skills you have and the challenges you face.

To thank you for sharing your opinions and experiences, you will receive a free survey report by e-mail.

The survey is at http://infocomm.qualtrics.com/SE?SID=SV_56aKHqv6ZbwQi3O&SVID=Prod . Contact marketresearch@infocomm.org if you have any questions.

Teachers that firmly believe in corporal punishment

It’s not like I was out there searching or anything but I found a quote that could be the official motto for Breaking Murphy’s Law:

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

eleanorrooseveltPretty good, isn’t it. I came across it on Bob Sutton’s blog Work MattersThe post it’s from contrasts the philosophy that informs Eleanor’s quote with the idea that your own failures are the best teachers. Your failures are the teachers that smack your knuckles really hard with the ruler. Your failures are the teachers that firmly believe in corporal punishment.

I agree that personal failures are very good at teaching important lessons in a way that makes them difficult to forget. The only problem is there’s usually only one person in the classroom.

Learn from your mistakes, but also be generous and share them so others can learn from what you went through.

I know, I know, easier said than done. Just try to remember you could be saving someone else from geting their knuckles rapped.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (01/25/09)

My Toastmasters Blog — Public Speaking Secrets – Your Audience (and Google) Know More than You

hamburgLast night I attended an open speaking event, that wasn’t Toastmasters, where speakers were tasked to give an interesting 5 minute presentation. One of the presentations was a fabulous demonstration of drawing the audience in with an interesting story, making good use of PowerPoint to reinforce spoken points, and dressing to fit the speaker’s speaking style. However, the presentation was ruined when I got home, Googled the speech topic, and found out that the presenter lifted the major points of his speech from a British business writer without citing the source.

Evil Genius Media + Events — Write it…so you can read it.

4. Insist that the lectern has a lip or a rest at the base to sit your presentation on so it doesn’t slip off.
5. Ask ! Is there a lectern ?
6. Be a prima donna. Insist on enough time in the room, with the lighting set to how it will be on the day. ( So you can tell if you can see your notes or the audience if that’s important. )
7. Make changes to the lighting if you need to. It’s your presentation ! Better still, insist you speak with the event organiser prior to the event and tell them what you want. If they can’t supply or organise it, you can adapt your presentation to suit the circumstances.
8. Have a pristine copy of the presentation that you are going to read from. It’s a nightmare when you pull the pages from pocket or bag to find them crumpled so they won’t sit on the lectern.

Biz Asia — BBC’s Tasmin’s “breathtaking” on-air moment [with audio]

BBC Three news presenter Tasmin Lucia Khan left viewers gasping for more after reading a bulletin hopelessly out of breath.

The show in which Tasmin gives a minute-long current affairs update from around the world in ’60 Seconds’ was terminated on Thursday after just 30-seconds due to the mishap.

During the embarrassing episode, she was not seen on-screen but was audible only. Seconds into the bulletin, she was heard gasping between words before giving up after the first item.

Rexi Media — How do you present to multitaskers?

A friend recently described to me how his 12-year old son did his homework and I admit I was a little shocked by how much times have changed. The boy would type frantically on his computer with his I-Pod in his ears blaring hip hop, constantly shooting IMs to his friends, while periodically being interrupted by beeping text messages from his cell phone. Apparently the youngster actually got his work done, but I have no idea how. When I was a kid, we had TV, the stereo and the (one) family telephone, and we certainly didn’t talk on the phone with one I-Pod earpiece in the other ear while typing on our MySpace pages at the same time.

Daily Writing Tips — The Chief Justice’s Prepositional Slip

The preposition switch may not be evidence of parapraxis, but the fact remains that Roberts did mess up the oath. Poor guy! He’s earned himself forever the distinction of being the first justice to to stumble over the 35-word oath in the course of sixty-four years and eleven Presidents.

Webinar Wire — Giving Demos Via Webinar

I’ll make one last recommendation. If you choose to do a live demo, have a hot backup of everything ready to switch over during your session. Log in as a presenter on a second computer (preferrably on a separate network) and have the demo software fired up. If something goes wrong on machine number one, abandon it and carry on from machine number two. Audiences are sometimes bemused, but almost never assuaged by watching presenters try to fix things that are going wrong in their demos.

Jay Raskolnikov — half hillbilly, Demi-Culture — Some Thoughts

She was fine, but managed to unplug a cable leading to a special which was the only light on an actor later in the show. Got that fixed for the next scene. Show went pretty well other wise.

Fortify Your Oasis — Phil Schiller’s keynote – how to not confound expectations

In a word, he was over-anxious and under-rehearsed. Yes, I felt some empathy for him; but he did nothing to win me over with his opening. And he was under-rehearsed. If you have your material down cold – particularly your opening – you simply don’t have to refer to your prompt screens that often, and certainly not that obviously.

Overnight Sensation — Public Speaking Myths: You Should Never Open With a Thank You

In the event that you start a speech with a thank you and everyone in the audience comes up to you afterwards and says you lost them at the onset, please let me know as I’d love to know which planet your audience was from.

Presentation Zen — Apple’s Keynote Remote: first impressions

It won’t replace my Keyspan (the Keynote Remote app does not have a black-out-screen function and the iPhone is a bit bulky in the hand compared to a tiny, plastic remote), but if I ever forget my remote control, my iPhone will do the trick just fine.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (01/18/09)

Speaking about Presenting — PowerPoint Design in 2009

There’s been a fantastic response to my invitation to write about PowerPoint Design in 2009.

40 contributions. That’s a wealth of material to guide you in making presentations in 2009. They include strong opinions, the odd rant, and many perceptive “hit the nail” comments.

I’ve created three pages where you can follow links and read the e-mail contributions.

Speak for Success — What Don’t You Know About Yourself that Others Do?

I remember the first time I was videotaped giving a presentation. It was about 12 years ago and it was a Toastmasters speech. When I had built up the courage I watched the tape and I was horrified! I was rocking back and forth from side to side. It looked like I was on a boat in choppy waters! What the heck was going on here? And, why the heck didn’t anyone tell me this! I looked like an absolute idiot!

Pro Humorist — Public Speaking: Causing Offence (or not)

I did a charity gig a couple of years back and the organiser was pleased when I said that I worked clean because she had taken a group to a comedy club recently and was upset when they went “off message”. In a situation like that I think it’s difficult to expect a comedian not to go off message when you’re on their turf. A comedy club is a comedian’s home-ground, where they have that freedom.

2theadvocate.com — Our Views: PowerPoint failure OK

Angelle’s assistants did get the PowerPoint running, but we detected a sense of quiet relief in the audience that listeners would not be subjected to the entire thing.

Overnight Sensation — Public Speaking Myths: There’s No Such Thing as a Dead Audience

You’re giving your presentation but the audience just isn’t reacting. They’re distracted and not showing any emotion at all. Was it something you did? While it’s very possible that you may have put your audience to sleep, this happens only on rare occasions as most audience members are professional enough to at least pretend to be interested. If the audience is completely comatose, chances are that you’re not the reason.

Get Me Jamie Notter — Is Asking Questions Rude?

She had brought in a financial expert to do a presentation to her staff about their 401k benefit, as this can be fairly complicated topic. When the presenter finished and asked if there were any questions, no one raised their hand. My friend was a bit surprised, but when the presentation was over, she went back to her office.

Then the instant messages started coming in.

Project : Secure House — ExCo Meeting

Actual system unable to be accessed if uploaded into the web server, due to security settings. For this meeting, we are showing in on our notebook, which acts as the local host. Mr Prem remindered that this is suppose to be a web application project. He expects it to be up in the server next week.

Call Center Cafe — Presentation Skills – Be Prepared for Diverse Audiences

Some speakers would not know that. Instead, they would try to “wake them up” by talking louder or jumping around the stage. But this speaker knew his audience. He appreciated the respect shown by these visiting Japanese executives. In return, he paid them the respect of continuing his presentation without any loud antics.

Presentation Facts — Does PowerPoint Make Us Think We Are Better Than We Are?

This study does not show (at least from what was published) that presenters giving oral business presentations rate themselves better than their audiences do.  But it does indicate that presenters and audiences seem to evaluate what is going on differently.

Stand and Deliver — Moving into the Zone

Your presentation really begins the moment you get out of your car in the parking lot:  you are “on” … and you are in your Zone. Think of your Zone as your suit of armor.  No matter how you feel, no matter how fast your heart is racing, or how much sweat has dripped into your socks, your Zone will protect you.

The Webinar Blog — Bad News For Meeting Planners

Only 20% said they would miss seeing speakers in person. That may say more about the sorrowful state of most on-stage presenters and presentations than it does about the audience!

ThinkGeek — Touchpad Sans Laptop

Control your Media-PC or a boardroom presentation from across the room with this handy Pocket Wireless Touchpad with Media Controls. It gives you a portable laptop-style touchpad in the palm of your hand with full media controls and a built in laser pointer. The built-in rechargeable battery gives you 4 hours of play time and you can charge up via USB or docking in a standard PCMCIA slot. Secure 2.4Ghz Bluetooth connection means no one can muscle in on your mousing action.

Post 101: “The dread of possible contingencies…”

chickenlittleThis is the one hundred and first post on BML. Noticing this milestone gave me an opportunity to take a look back and review what’s  happened so far. One thing I noticed is a tendency to focus on the disaster and the aftermath. Makes sense. These posts are usually entertaining  to both read and write (as long as whatever happened didn’t happen to me).

Moving into the next one hundred posts, I’m going to try to dig a little deep and deal more with how planning and preparation helped when the fecal matter met the fan blades. In other words, a little less debrief, a little more anticipation.

To start off, I would like to offer this thought-provoking quote (as well as some thoughts the quote provoked).

“There is little peace or comfort in life if we are always anxious as to future events. He that worries himself with the dread of possible contingencies will never be at rest.”

~Samuel Johnson

That sounds about right for day-to-day living, but does it make sense for a speaker or the person responsible for making sure that a meeting or presentation is successful?

Since when are we supposed to be peaceful, comfortable or at rest? We get paid in part to think long and hard about those future events and possible contingencies he’s talking about.

You need to be able to develop and apply a certain frame of mind to in order to see around corners and be prepared to deal with issues that no one else is even aware of yet. This frame of mind requires a special kind of focused or contained anxiousness.

If you are too nervous or if you are worried about everything, you can become paralyzed and find yourself unable to take the necessary action to prevent an actual crisis. You can also lose credibility with other team members if you become  “Chicken Little” and continually to try find new ways to deal with the remote possibility of the sky falling.

On the other hand, there are those who are too optimistic, who are never anxious. They also tend to also be incapable of working up the frame of mind that will allow them to anticipate how things might go wrong and to understand how truly bad things can get.

Is being able to operate in the sweet spot between these two extremes merely a matter of having enough, but not too much, experience? Enough to know what to worry about but not so much that you are jaded or complacent. Is it an innate trait?

Would you rather work with someone who is too anxious or not anxious enough? Which is most like to do to most damage?

[Thanks to Michael Wade’s Execupundit.com for the quote.]

PowerPoint Design in 2009:

wonder…writing’s on the wall” (but make sure there are no bullet points and that you have a big dramatic photo you found on Flickr in the background. Why? I don’t know.).

[Editor’s note: Olivia Mitchell has devised an incredibly interesting and ambitious group blogging project. She asked an army of  PowerPoint designers, speaking coaches and other presentation professionals to write posts exploring the theme “What I’d like to see in PowerPoint slide design in 2009.” Although Breaking Murphy’s Law has been careful to refrain from dealing with the disasters that can befall those not careful about their PowerPoint design decisions (there are so many others writing about that so much better than I ever could), I thought I would break with this unofficial policy and contribute the following.]

Superstition involves doing something without knowing why you do it (other than it makes you feel better in some way you can’t quite explain). It seems to me like there is more and more of this kind of thinking going into PowerPoint design. In 2009, I would like to see less.

Things I’ve heard recently:

  • You should never have any text on your slide with a font size of less that 28 points.
  • All presentations should have no more than 10 slides, be no longer than 20 minutes and use fonts no smaller than 30 points.
  • Three bullets per slide and they can’t be sentences.
  • Bullet points are deadly

Like many superstitious beliefs, design criteria like these usually have a rational, thoughtful beginning. However, over time, they became less and less methods for achieving particular aesthetic or rhetorical goals and end up as thoughtlessly applied dogma.

They might have started as something that someone read in one of the many excellent presentation design books that have come out in recent years. However, what the book suggested became corrupted and misinterpreted as it was passed from person to person, each with less and less understanding of the original research and experience that informed the context the book was working from (kind of like a game of “Whisper Down the Lane”).

They might have grown out of techniques and design decisions that worked once for a particular type of content or audience. Due to that success, they now get blindly applied to each subsequent  presentation situation whether they are appropriate or not.

The bottom line is anytime a design “rule” is applied to a slide or a presentation thoughtlessly, without any consideration of the audience or the requirements of the messages being communicated, you have the makings of a massive presentation disaster on par with a projector blowing up.

Through the hard work of many great presentation designers, writers and thinkers (starting with Tufte right on through Reynolds, Abela, Duarte and Atkinson) just about everyone knows that it’s a bad idea to blindly follow the path of least resistance offered by PowerPoint’s design automation. In 2009, let’s work to get out another message that’s just as important:

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way, yeh, yeh.

~Stevie Wonder, “Superstition”

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (01/11/09)

Brad Montgomery’s Laugh-O-Nomics: Meeting Planner Sabotages Keynote Speaker

©iStockphoto.com/design56

©iStockphoto.com/design56

I got my gear set, was all-systems-go with the AV team, and had chatted with the big boss (who by the way had hired me two times in the past.)  So far, everything is easy and fun.

But here is where it gets hinky.  I was about to grab a box lunch… I was starving and was needed calories before I spoke for an hour and a half  … when I casually asked  the meeting planner if I could have a sandwich.  I asked her knowing it was a formality.  Of course she would feed her speaker.   I nearly didn’t ask.

I was wrong.  She said, “Oh no, those are for the participants.”  I thought she was joking.  “You’re kidding, right?”    I honestly thought she was joking about not feeding me.

BBC: Cat turns up on weatherman’s set

A cat wandered onto the set of a live weather forecast by Germany’s leading meteorologist Joerg Kachelmann. Kachelmann had just started his two-minute forecast when the cat appeared – but he scooped it up and finished his forecast. (Video. Would you be able to handle a distraction like this with this much aplomb or would you be completely derailed?)

Pro Humorist: Public Speaking Advice: Reading Audiences

I noticed one of the audience members in the front row falling asleep. I’m not normally known for being the sort of soporific speaker to send someone into a slumber. My mind immediately began racing through my potential options whilst my mouth carried on on auto-pilot. Here were the choices as I saw them:
1) I could draw attention to sleeping beauty
2) I could let sleeping dogs lie.

IttyBiz: 7 Lessons From A Big Launch

This Christmas, I bought Jamie the full series of The West Wing on DVD and we’ve been watching a few episodes each night. What never ceases to amaze me is how many colossal fuck ups take place. They have an in-house staff of hundreds and TENS OF THOUSANDS off-site. Their staff are among the most highly trained people in the world, and shit still goes horribly wrong. They do their best to predict, but there’s only so much they can do.

They have thousands of people employed to predict and prevent disaster. You have you. Cut yourself some slack.

FailBlog: Pen Trick Fail (Video. You need to watch to the end.)

CNET: Steal the slide show with Victorinox Presentation Pro

At this year’s CES, Victorinox announced the newest member of its team, the Presentation Pro. This convenient business tool is small enough to slip into your pocket or onto your keychain, but don’t be fooled by its mini size–this thing has every gadget you’ll need to give a business slide show presentation.

Rikk Flohr: Lest you lead your flock astray

©iStockphoto.com/Mantonature

©iStockphoto.com/Mantonature

Why is so tempting to focus almost all your precious rehearsal time and energy on what the presenter is doing?

Maybe it’s because what’s happening onstage is the most visible/audible element of the entire production. Maybe it’s because the person who will be behind the lecture is usually the most worried person in the room. Maybe it’s because the speaker, at least in a corporate setting, is often the biggest of the several big cheeses involved in any given event.

I came across the story below in my feed reader a last week and it’s author, Rikk Flohr (his blog, his website) was kind enough to give me permission to reprint it here on BML. It’s a great illustration of an important principle: Everyone knows that it’s essential to rehearse, but not everyone knows how to rehearse what’s essential.

In other words, a successful rehearsal has to be about more than just a speaker getting the words, voice, pacing, stage movement and gestures right. It also has to include, in a meaningful way, the easy to overlook “backstage” elements that need to be performed correctly and in unison with the presenter.

Death and Resurrection by PowerPoint

Have you ever been inside one of those English-dubbed Japanese Monster Movies? I don’t mean being chased by some rubbery monster with curiously man-like proportions. What I am talking about is the experience of, in real life, having the sounds being heard not follow the visual cues of script and mouth shapes. Today, this happened to me.

REHEARSE!  REHEARSE!  REHEARSE!

My recent forays at PowerPoint Live brought me in contact with many people who, primarily or secondarily, were learning the craft of professional presentation for use at their local church. There has been an explosion of multimedia materials used in conjunction with church services. Inspirational pictures are shown, announcements are broadcast and lyrics for the hymns are displayed.  It also keeps the church feeling modern and in-tune to today’s youth.

I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked to find my own church constructing a trio of large screens in the main worship area. Three massive screens with powerful projectors lead us all in the celebration of the mass. Pictures are shown, announcements are made and lyrics displayed-all run from the mixer board at the back center of church. We no longer have hymnals and we no longer have photocopied sheets stuck in the pews cueing us on what to sing. Until today, it was all running so smoothly.

REHEARSE!  REHEARSE! REHEARSE!

Saturday Night Live did a great skit once about St. Mickey’s Knights of Columbus where no one in the crowd new the second line to any of the less common Christmas carols. Life imitated art today.  During the second song of the day, the second verse was upon us and the vocalist leading the song, sang, suddenly alone.  The crowd trailed off into silence. Some mumbled heroically. Some looked around awkwardly for guidance.  The lyrics being displayed on the massive screens were not the same as those being sung. Since it was a second verse, no one was really quite sure who was right: the presenter with the script or the slide that said otherwise.  Eventually, the perplexed singer looked at the screen and joined the subdued crowd in the projected lyrics.

REHEARSE!  REHEARSE!  REHEARSE!

For the rest of the service, every song was tentative-every churchgoer unsure of his or her self.  The projectionist started to become tentative too. The slides didn’t change quite as crisply as before. Some of them appeared too early as compensation for the bewilderment in the crowd.  Mass ended early-perhaps by design-perhaps by confusion.  I surreptitiously grabbed a few cell phone camera captures (see them here) in the uncertain moments, knowing that this was presentation precarious.

Choirs rehearse. Musicians rehearse. Speakers rehearse. Projectionists and those interacting with the presentation-particularly in a multi-presenter environment need to rehearse too. It isn’t enough to know the script (read lyrics) on the sheet on your podium (read music stand), you have to know the visuals too and be certain that they are sympathetic or at least not incompatible.

Lest you lead your flock astray, repeat the refrain (to the notes of “…in this world and the next…”:

REHEARSE!  REHEARSE!  REHEARSE!

A-MEN!

Anyone who receives your presentation is your flock. Do not lead them astray!

Rikk Flohr © 2008


Rikk Flohr teaches and writes about the subtle art and inexact science of imaging-from capture, through editing and finally presentation. In addition he teaches at national conferences like PowerPoint Live and conducts photographic and image editing workshops in multiple countries. His design firm, Fleeting Glimpse Images supplies design for print and screen, presentation consulting, video and still photographic services for a wide range of clients.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (01/04/09)

First post of 2009. Happy New Year!

Relational Presentation Blog: Fear of Public Speaking

Some time ago, I confidently waltzed into a conference room, ready to give a small group presentation in front of a gaggle of professors. We sat around talking, and then I got up to speak on the benefits of interactive presentation, something I’d done countless times before. All of a sudden my voice became constricted and my head began to swim. Nervousness hit me out of nowhere like a tidal wave … and for absolutely no reason.

Great Public Speaking: BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP

Just when you think you’re on top of the world . . . ZAP! The computer Gods bring you down a few notches. This past Friday while setting up for ButtCamp in Orlando, FL my new laptop that had just easily checked email for me in my hotel room would not boot up. I thought, “Gee this is a pain, but no big deal. I’ll just get my trusty old backup computer which has been chugging along for a couple years. I got it out and OH NO! It wouldn’t boot up either.

Brad Montgomery’s Laugh-O-Nomics: Brad’s New Rule: I will never speak in this venue again

I’ll never again speak in a gym.  Ever.  I’ve spoken to tons of youth and high school groups, and love the kids.  I love the teachers.  And I love the energy that only youth audiences can generate.  But I gotta tell you:  I’ve spoken in my last gym.

I’ll call it the First Rule Of Brad:  No Gyms.

Why?  The sound system is always bad.  Even the good ones are bad.  People cannot see.  Folks are sitting on those horrible bleachers so at the best they way spread out to your left to your right.  And at worst, they are on BOTH bleachers with you at the end of the gym.   (Can you say, “Hey Jim Bob!  I can’t see a darned thing from here!“)

New York Times: Internet Use Grows at Meetings, as Do Challenges

Erika Powell, a meeting planner for Global Knowledge, a company that provides software training to corporate clients, said she was recently forced to move an event because the hotel’s Internet connection could not keep up with her group’s demands.

“On Monday, we started getting reports that the Internet was very slow and they weren’t able to access the labs,” she said. “We communicated with the facility to find out what the problem was, but they were at a loss.” Ms. Powell said she had to pull up stakes and relocate her students to another nearby hotel in the middle of the week so their training could be completed without slowdowns.

Los Angeles Times: Making a point in Washington? You’ll need a prop

There is, of course, always a possibility that the use of props will backfire.

“Political theater still has a role in highlighting a cause or issue, but . . . it’s important not to get buried in the part,” said Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union. “Given the wealth of online video, for example, a failed publicity stunt can be seen by millions instead of just a roomful of people.”

As a reminder of that lesson, former House GOP leadership aide Kevin Madden said, he kept in his office a picture of Republicans holding toy windmills in an attempt to ridicule Democrats’ energy policies. It looked silly, Madden said, and “the message it sent was one that was not serious at all” about energy policy.

Acronym: Track Speakers & Board Members

Do you have a keynote speaker or board member flying in the day of the event? If you need to know their flight status in order to gauge whether the situation reaches ‘code red delays,’ you can easily track flights using several tools.

ready2spark: tents 101 . part one

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve come across clients who don’t consider the weather. I’ve already talked about rain, but there are many other types of inclement weather to think about.

Slides that stick: Too much – “painful graphics”

Before I argued that slightly irritating the audience’s senses could support your presentation. Two cases of overdoing it…