Murphy's Law states: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." This is especially true and especially painful when there is an audience involved.



This blog was active from April, 2008 to July 2012.
It is no longer being updated. It will continue to be maintained for reference purposes.

Social Media Fast

On a social media fast so things are going to be even more quiet around here than it has been recently. See you after Easter.


I joined Google+ the other day and I’m liking it. Still needs a few features and a lot more users but I think it shows a great deal of promise and I can see how it might be a real threat to Facebook and Twitter. In case you were wondering, it’s definitely not another Wave-like social media debacle.

If you are part of the public speaking or presentation professional communities, feel free to add your Google+ info to the directory I started. It’s just a Google doc spreadsheet. Use the form here to add your info: To view the directory, go to

If you prefer,feel free to just add me to one of your circles:

Need an invitation? Send me your email address and I’ll send one as soon as I can the next time the Google gods make them available.

My five favorite BML posts from 2010

This list is in no  particular order and is completely objective. I hope you enjoy this little retrospective jaunt as much as I have.

August 29th — Four Ways Presentation Mishaps Are Like Zombies…

2) If you allow yourself to slip into panic mode, the zombie/mishap will either eat you brains or infect you and turn you into a mindless, snarling, death-dealing horror. Stay calm.

September 13th — Presentation Disasters A to Z: A is for Anger

Given a choice between working with someone likely to curl up into a quivering fetal ball when things are going wrong and working with someone prone to venting their anger in the same situation, I think I would go with the fetal ball rather than the venter. A fetal ball can be guided to a quiet corner somewhere to whimper quietly while everyone else sorts things out.

March 11th — Clutch Hitting

Can you think of a better description of the kind of person you want to be working a meeting with you? You know the moments we’re talking about here. Lamps burn out, speakers freaking out, cable getting kick loose, file corrupt, etc.

June 28th — Promiscuous Sticks

Last weekend, veteran AV pro Rick Pillars, a frequent contributor to BML and owner of It’s a Rap Productions, started a Facebook post with these dreadful words: “So, a bad thing happened yesterday. I plugged my USB drive into the show computer.”

March 12th — Overheard on Twitter: How do you forget to put the parrot on the checklist?

@GraemeLfx just remembered I’ve forgotten the parrot for my presentation. Disaster ~wardsteve (Steven Ward)




Breaking Murphy’s Law was the recipient of a decent flurry of linkage in the last few days. Thought I might return the favor:

Thanks folks, I appreciate it. Glad you like what we’re doing here.

Welcome Indezine Readers

Thanks for stopping by.

Links for subscribing to Breaking Murphy’s Law via email or and RSS reader can be found to the left.

To get an idea of what this site is all about and how it came to be: I fought the law…

Publishing schedule: I usually publish the main post Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Over the weekend I’ll post a link roundup called “The What You Might Have Missed List.”

Comments are always welcomed and encouraged. You are also welcomed to contribute your own presentation disaster story by clicking on the Contact link above.

Alltop? How did that happen?

Alltop, all the top stories I’d like to thank Guy Kawasaki and his team for including Breaking Murphy’s Law on Alltop’s public speaking site. I’m as honored as I am surprised. After all, Breaking Murphy’s Law is only a little more than two months old. I’d also like to that anyone who suggested BML to them as they we deciding who to include.

Alltop is a really great idea. It can be thought of as a “digital magazine rack” designed to “help you explore your passions by collecting stories from ‘all the top’ sites on the web.” (Alltop. All the top. Get it?)

They have pages for over 60 topics and they’re adding more all the time. Check it out. I guarantee you’ll find a really useful or cool site you had no idea existed.


HousekeepingI’m going to be doing some general housekeeping on Breaking Murphy’s Law this weekend. One of the major tasks is going to be tidying up and reorganizing the way I categorize posts. Why am I telling you this? I’ll need to go back and recategorized the posts that have already been published (which is why this needs to be done sooner rather than later). Unfortunately, the recategorized posts might show up in your feed reader again as new posts and I just wanted to give everyone a heads up. Enjoy the reruns.

Four words you don’t want to hear coming from the video conference room at 7:00 am

“Try pushing that button!”

Sounds like someone’s Friday might be off to a rough start.

I’m a day or so behind schedule. There’s a somewhat more substantial post in the works and it should be online sometime tonight. This week’s “Friday’s List of What You Might Have Missed” is also going to be delayed and should be up tomorrow.

I fought the law…

The breaking of Murphy’s Law is not like robbing a bank, stealing a car or wearing white after labor day. Murphy’s Law is more like the law of gravity. It seems like a constant, like it’s built into the way the world works. It drags you down. You can’t really break it, but you can learn how to plan for it and how to take it into account. You can often keep it from doing damage. A lucky few even manage to escape it completely.

We all learned most of what we know about the law of gravity as a child by falling down and by breaking things. This sort of painful experience is also a way most of us learn about the effects of Murphy’s Law. Luckily for us, it is also possible to learn about how things can go wrong vicariously through the careful observation of other people’s painful experience.

When I was relatively new to the business, the company I worked for did a series of meetings all over the country. Each involved a handful of distinguished speakers, a pile of 35mm slides, a bunch of gear, and a little pipe and drape. There was also a technical crew we had contracted with to run the lights and sound and to make sure it all went together the way it was supposed to do. I was the PowerPoint guy.

My best memories of those days all involve hanging out with the crew and the director, hanging onto every word of every story they told. I learned about what can happen when you don’t measure the hotel’s freight elevator yourself, what needs to go under your mattress when you’re doing a meeting in Florida, and what it means to have a Jedi Knight on stage.

Basically, I was given the privilege of sitting in on an informal seminar taught by seasoned professionals who knew better than anyone what can go wrong and why. Not only were the stories endlessly entertaining, I learned about things going badly in ways I didn’t have the experience to even imagine.

I think everyone also recognized this as an important part of participating in their profession. A trick, tip or technique learned while listening to these stories could be crucial to saving a meeting as well as a career. Sharing your own stories (even the ones you would rather keep to yourself) was expected and strongly encouraged.

That is what I envisioned for this site when I begain working on it. I hope it will grow in to a conversation, a sharing of stories about what can go wrong when you are a presenter (or when you supporting someone else’s presentation). A place where everyone, experienced professionals as well as newbies, can learn how to break Murphy’s Law before Murphy’s Law breaks you.