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“Fortune knocks but once, but misfortune has much more patience.”

~Laurence J. Peter (via Execupundit)

Might Have Missed List (02/27/11)

Via boingboing — The importance of well-secured stage props: video

Princeton Public Speaking — 5 Teleprompter Tips

The teleprompter has gotten quite a bit of recent attention.  After witnessing many faux pas over the past few days, here are five quick tips to make the teleprompter experience a bit more rewarding:

1) Always bring a physical copy of the text with you.  There is nothing worse than discovering that the text you had thought was loaded into the teleprompter was not loaded, or was loaded incorrectly.  In addition, always remember that as with any electronic device, a teleprompter, or teleprompter software, can fail to work properly.

So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager… — The Room Was Setup Perfectly…

When I came in Tuesday the dumb-ass group contact tells me that the room is setup wrong.  WTF!  I’ve got a diagram.  I take my copies of the BEO’s outta my pocket and show her the diagram that was sent to us.

“Sorry, that looks like the diagram from the meeting we had at the Marriott downtown last month.  My secretary made these arrangements, not me”, she said.  “I need this room setup for crescent rounds”, was next.

Meet Prepared — Time to Step Up: Professional Associations and their Risk Management Failures

I was attending a national conference of one of our professional associations within the past two years and was embarrassed when walking into a break out session to find a significant problem. The room’s secondary exit was blocked not only by a large screen but the cart holding the sound equipment also was blocking the doorway. I immediately pointed this out to one of the senior meeting planners and was informed that this set up was done by the venue. I was stunned by a meeting planner so willing to throw the venue under the bus for something that is clearly the responsibility of any meeting planner. So what’s the solution? It seems rather obvious but let me again reiterate that common sense is not common. Any meeting planner should always look at every room set up for issues like egress from a room in case of a fire or other problems where the primary entrance is blocked. Find the time to walk the meeting space after the venue sets up to ensure that not only is it set properly but that things like emergency exits are clear of obstacles.

Offered without comment…

One-time college newspaper colleague, Oliver Mackson, now an investigator for the Dutchess County Public Defender, recently tweeted:

Nancy the senior investigator, after I fumbled a phone conference: “I’d say you need to master the three-way, but you might take it wrong.”

Things to Think About #4: Theater

Because audiences are often small, because no tickets are sold, because sometimes the stage is just the part of the conference room nearest the screen, because standing ovations are few and far between, it can be easy to forget that what you do is theater.

Part of what makes theater exciting is never knowing exactly what’s going to happen during any given performance. Sometime theater can be magic, sometimes not so much

Audience members at a West End play starring Keira Knightley were left baffled when an onstage mishap interrupted a performance.

Stagehands at the Comedy Theatre had to pull down the safety curtain after a chair was crushed as a pillar descended for a new scene in The Children’s Hour on Monday.

. . . .

“Ten or 15 minutes later there was still no announcement but then the curtain went up, there was a different chair and the column had been put back.”

. . . .

A spokeswoman for the play said the chair had been moved slightly off its marked position as cast members exited.

She said: “The nature of live theatre means that occasionally unexpected things happen on stage and need to be sorted as quickly as possible to ensure the smooth running of a show.”

Words to live by.

Getting knocked slightly off your mark (figuratively as well as literally) might get you crushed. Be prepared to get sorted as quickly as possible.

I guess we’re all really lucky that Keira wasn’t sitting in the chair at the time.

Things to Think About #3: Time

Seriously, knowing how long you have to talk is pretty basic. At least the audience was happy with the way things worked out in this case.

Things to Think About #2: Warped Signage

The box Kinkos shipped directly to the venue in Orlando just made it to the hotel in time. Good thing that. No one would know how to get from the elevators to the breakfast buffet without directional signage. You pop it open and slide the signs out of the plastic bag. Looking good, plenty big, tastefully designed, mounted on nice heavy foamcore, easel-ready. You lock up and head to the lobby bar for a quick drink before crashing,  feeling confident that everything will be good to go in the morning.

You descend bright and early and begin making sure the speaker ready room is set up, etc, etc. Time to put out those wonderful signs…

Which are now really badly warped!

The short ends stick up in the air three or four inches. In a panic you start pushing down on the ends but it begins to feel like the foamcore is about to crack in the middle. Not good. They are so bent they fall forward right off the easels. You’re doomed.

Depending on the particular circumstances, it’s very possible that shipping mounted signage into a warmer, more humid climate can cause it to warp and bend to the point it becomes useless. It has something to do with differences in the way the foamcore and the paper the signage was printed on before it was mounted to the foamcore react to the weather.

If you can, try to get your signs shipped down and opened to the air early enough to see if warping is going to be a problem. You can carefully weigh then down as they acclimate to the being in the tropics. I’ve been told the best bet is to carefully and preemptively slide the signs under your mattress overnight.

Just watch out for bedbugs.

Things to Think About #1: Sockets

Sometimes, you’re working in an old venue. Real old. Rooms that have seen hundreds if not thousands of meetings, speeches, dances, rallies, fund raisers, etc. Old things can be well worn. Worn in ways that aren’t obvious.

For instance, there was a chain hotel in Bethesda that we used to use a lot that was old but seemed to be aging well. It looked like the ballroom had been renovated at some point. Newish carpeting, reasonably fresh wallpaper and paint. High tech climate control that kept things too cold digitally. The works. However, the electrical outlet must have been overlooked.

We didn’t need a high-voltage power drop. We only had a our laptops, a switch and a couple projectors so we just plugged into the regular wall sockets. Or at least we thought we did.

This socket had been plugged into thousand of times over the years and there just wasn’t enough friction in there to ensure that what was plugged in would remain plugged in. The weight of the cable pulled the plug half way out of the wall as soon as I let go of it. It wouldn’t stick.

This, of course, could be very bad for our stuff.

We ended up securely taping the cord to the wall just below outlet. No biggie.

Always, always have a roll of gaffer’s tape with you when you’re working.

Might Have Missed List (02/20/11)

Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog — Fighting Fire with Planning

I’m not familiar with the specific procedures in Hartsville, but I’ve critiqued enough of these things over the years to be sure that everything I just described to you was planned in advance. No one was standing around on the fire ground muttering, “I wonder who we should call.”

The plan wasn’t drawn up on the spot, it was put in place a while ago and the kinks were probably worked out with training exercises. That’s how it works in public safety and how it can work for you.

Thought Catalog — Watch Multiple Awkward News Fails on Aussie Morning Show Segment [Video]

Perhaps none of them had their coffee that morning? Watch the awkwardness reach a crescendo then spiral out of control into talk of “long, stabby things” and “whacking [someone] off from a distance.”

Phil Factor’s Phrenetic Phoughts — The Presentation Isn’t Over Until It’s Over

I would present them with a dazzling synthesis of diagrams, graphs, followed by  a live demonstration of my software projected from my laptop.  My preparation had been meticulous: It had to be: A year’s hard work was at stake, so I’d prepared it to perfection.  I stood up and took them all in, with a gaze of sublime confidence.

Then the laptop expired.

– – – –

My desperation gave me a manic energy. If you’ve ever demonstrated a windows application entirely by mime, gesture and florid description, you’ll understand the scale of the challenge, but then I had nothing to lose.

Might Have Missed List (02/13/11)

Joyful Public Speaking — Mistake-proofing your presentation outfit

If you do a lot of traveling to give presentations, then you might consider setting up a “go bag” to visually organize what you take along. In my February 1st post I discussed the use of checklists. They are one aspect of a more general topic in quality called mistake-proofing, which is the use of process or design features to prevent errors.

Life in the Corporate Theater — The Audio guy’s personal Tech Kit

For those of you that aren’t in the business, What I am referring to as a “Tech Kit” is all of the gadgets that you would bring to a show to help you do your job, basically the way you want to do it.

View From the Ledge — Preparedness…

Strangers might wonder why
That big snow-shovel’s leaning
Against the house in July.
Has it some cryptic meaning?

It means at least to say
That, here, we needn’t be neat
About putting things away,
As on some suburban street.

What’s more, by leaning there
The shovel seems to express,
With its rough and ready air,
A boast of ruggedness.

If a stranger said in sport
“I see you’re prepared for snow,”
Our shovel might retort,
“Out here, you never know.”

– Out Here, by Richard Wilbur from Anterooms

MinnPost — Technological glitches disrupt GOP pitch for high-tech voting system

There was, it should be noted, a standing-room-only crowd of people eager to testify on either side of the election bills.

Kiffmeyer nodded to the man seated next to her to start the video.

He hit a button.

Nothing happened.

He hit more buttons, but still no video showed up on the big screens in the hearing room.

The man was joined by another man. There was fiddling with the computer.

Ah, success.

There was audio!

“A 21st Century voting system …,” the recorded voice began.

But there was a problem. No video.

“Maybe we should save the video until Tuesday,” said the committee chairwoman, Rep. Joyce Peppin.

“Thank you, madam chair,” said Kiffmeyer.

The two men trying to get the video operational kept trying. The audio came on again.

“A 21st Century voting system …”

No video.

Kiffmeyer tried not to look flustered.

“Umm, it’s this technology in the House …,” Kiffmeyer said.

The chairwoman tried to speak. Her microphone didn’t work.

Of course, many observers, including the DFL minority members of the committee, found the day’s technological failure both amusing and ironic.

The Official join.me Blog — Whose Turn Is it? And Who’s Talking?

Even when conference calls aren’t a total waste of time, there’s still two problems that always come up. I have some ideas for how to solve them, but I’d like your suggestions for how to solve them without resorting to violence.

(Trust me, I’ve got that option covered.)

Quote: Rank Amateurs

From the perpetually useful Michael Wade:

Amateurs discuss tactics and rank amateurs discuss grand strategy while professionals discuss logistics.

~ Old military saying