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Speak up!

Sometimes, in retrospect, it’s clear that a mere word to the wise would have been enough to prevent problems:

I recently provided a sound system for a high profile seminar hosted by the governor of a state that will remain nameless. When it came time for the governor to pose questions to panelists, rather than asking them to move a little closer to the table mics we had placed in front of them, here’s what he did: He unclipped his wireless lavalier and passed it back and forth among the panelists as they attempted a dialogue. Between mic handling noise, lavaliere element overload from holding the mic about an inch from their mouths and a couple of drops to the floor (not to mention tangling the lavalier cable around the arm of the chair) the audio was completely unusable.

The producer for the television production company that hired me was livid (his wrath was aimed at me, not the governor) and the audience was leaving the hall in droves.

The rest of Jeff Harrison’s story details what he took away from the experience,what he’ll do next time and includes some great tips for using lavaliere mics.

If you only read one thing this week...

make sure it’s “The Last One Percent that Kills You” by Dan Pallotta. A huge percentage of the all the presentation mishaps and disasters written about on this blog in the last three years could have been avoided by adhearance to the principles it outlines.

They assured us that they had a flat screen TV that would accommodate the slide show. I arrived an hour before the party to set up. Sure enough, the TV was there, but the input jacks were inaccessible. They were on the back of the TV, and it was bolted to the wall. I wasn’t until the party was nearly over that we learned that we could access the input jacks through an outlet in the floor.

For example, I’ve seen more charity events than I can count at which expensive banners get produced but no one has thought about the last step — how they’re going to be rigged. People think they’ll figure it out when they get there. But 40 mile-an-hour winds require a little more thought than that. The work of a branding company, a graphic design firm, and a banner production company are all thwarted because the banner can’t be hung.

We could chock it all up to the fact that accidents happen, but I think that does a disservice to accidents. The last 1% gets overlooked because of a lack of rigor in communication. We play fast and loose with language. Here are a few things we can do to prevent our efforts from being upended:

  • Beware the tacit agreement. If someone says something that doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t politely nod, pretend that you understand, and let it go. If you don’t understand what they’re talking about, there’s a damned good chance they don’t either. We’ve all experienced a thousand conversations in which neither of us understood what was just said, but we both just let it go and implicitly hope for the best. Don’t be reticent. Speak up.

He continues with five more suggestions that are even more useful (Develop a Pavlovian reaction to the words “I think”, Have multiple conversations about the same thing, Fill in the blanks, Speak like an air-traffic controller, Visualize disaster).

I can’t say enough about this article. It should be taped to every cubical and office wall in the world.

Might Have Missed List (04/03/11)

©iStockphoto.com/anthonyjhall

Your preso toolkit (Presenting is Simple)

The first time I burned my fingers changing out a lamp in an overhead projector was a salutary lesson for me. From then on, I always carried a glove in my presentation bag. Over the years, the contents of my bag have evolved to reflect the technology that I am using and every now and then, I sit down and strip out items that I no longer use. But it’s still a fairly long list…

Lesson learned #1 – Turn off Twitter during a work presentation. (Cec’s Babblings)

But I think I could have considered this presentation as not completely disastrous if I hadn’t committed any more mistakes… mmmmm… yeah, it would still have been ok if I hadn’t forgotten to turn off my twitter application…
But yeah.. the issue with these background applications is that they not always stay in the background and guys, you had a lot to tweet about on Friday afternoon!

So I learned a lesson during what will be the worst presentation I would have ever made in my professional career:  always, always, always turn off twhirl before a meeting.

Through the ears of an attendee… (Pulse Staging and Events)

Whenever we provide AV for an event, I always log on to monitor the Twitter stream. I  derive two benefits.

  1. Quality Assurance. It’s like being able to hear the event through the ears of my audience. If a certain area can’t hear the music or someone has problems seeing, we can adjust our settings or at least let the event organizers know so they can try to remedy the situation. It’s one more way we offer a value add as an AV company. Nancy Zavada of MeetGreen actually wrote a blog post about this from the viewpoint of being an event planner checking things out remotely, jumping on Skype and alerting her team on the ground. Awesome!

25 considerations for choosing a venue for your event production (Sound n’ Sight)

You may or may not go on the site visit, so here are the questions you the Producer will need answered specifically.