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Might Have Missed List (08/01/11)

The difference between being good and excellent is one tiny extra detail — Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That!

We travel around the country with extra suitcases full of 200 pounds of things that we might need. Things that might save the day. Zip ties, 5 types of thumb tacks, 6 kinds of tape, a hair dryer, chocolate, batteries, etc.

At our last event, the door to the auditorium was squeaking loudly. Enough to ruin the keynote.

Audio Disasters & How to Prevent Them — Viktorix

Without question, the biggest problem I face as a presenter is dealing with the unique audio issues of each venue.

Larger events will have a dedicated audio engineer, but for many events the planner is stuck with the “house” sound system or perhaps is bringing his or her own portable system to a company conference room. In either case, things can go horribly awry. It’s not that anyone is being unprofessional, it’s just that audio is intrinsically hard. I’ve learned to simply expect audio disaster, as that gives one the best chance of avoiding it. There are many varieties of audio disaster, so we shall break them down to: batteries, feedback, wires, clips, hot mics, and “potpourri.”

This is not what I wanted to see this morning… — Betsy Weber

This is not what I wanted to see this morning...

Twilight Zone — Rachelle Gardner

Thursday I flew to North Carolina for a conference. During my flight I was using my laptop to tweak my PowerPoint and my handouts for my workshop. When I got to the hotel and powered up my laptop, the OS refused to boot. I had a black screen with blinking cursor.

I called my tech guy. We ran the computer through a bunch of diagnostics. We tried everything to shock it back to life. No go. There was a tech guy at the conference who was running all the A/V. He worked on my laptop awhile, gave it his best shot. He couldn’t get it to boot either.

Finally I had to let that go, borrow a laptop, recreate my PowerPoint and handouts, and be ready for my workshop on Saturday morning. No problem, everything went great. (I’d neglected to bring a flash drive with my presentation on it as a backup. That’s the last time I make that little mistake.)

Worship Confessional 07.13.08 — WorshipSource

Don’t you love it when the sound system wigs out? It’s so awesome. I’ve been around church music world my whole life, and I’ve heard the statement “there’s demons in the sound board” about a million times, but today I think God did it.

Might Have Missed List (07/17/11)

Gub doo gia bee? (Language Log)

[This post is chock full of all sorts of wonderful things going wrong during a series of presentations at an academic conference. This brief passage represents just a sliver of a very entertaining story]

And the other problem was that, impelled by some irresistible psychological imperative (I saw this later with several other speakers), he instinctively pointed the remote projection controller at the screen, desperately trying to get it to respond. But the computer he should have been pointing the remote at was ten or fifteen yards away on a table in a totally different direction. It was just too counterintuitive to turn 180 degrees away from the screen, so his back was toward it, in order to change the screen image. We humans are simple mammals, and we imagine that what we are focusing on is where the action is. So his clicking away with the remote was not being detected by the computer, and even if it had been detected, he would have had no idea whether anything had happened to the screen as a result.

Presentation Tip: First Impressions Matter (Professionally Speaking…)

Be prepared, with AV equipment checked, handouts sorted and slides ready. If you seem disorganized and rattled over logistics, your audience may assume that your presentation will be equally disorganized.

How to recognize someone for their service to an organization when they can’t be present in person (Conferences That Work)

  • A week before the event, Nancy and I set up a test call with me calling from the laptop I would be using at the conference. It was good we did this, because it took a while to get Nancy’s camera working. We arranged for her to start Skype when she arrived at work, thirty minutes before we would start the recognition ceremony.

  • About twenty minutes before the call, Nancy was not showing up as connected on Skype. I called her from my cell and she assured me Skype was running. I restarted Skype on my machine & this time she appeared. Phew! During the next few minutes, I muted our audio while the audience assembled.

 

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.

Might Have Missed List (03/27/11)

Event Signage – A Case of Bad “Sign-You-Sight-Us” (PlannerWire)

Imagine, a conference going perfect until 30 attendees walk to the wrong end of a resort hotel for a meeting only to find out that the arrow was pointing in the wrong direction. They are now late for the keynote, late for their education session or late for a luncheon all because you did not double check.

A couple of things you can do to avoid bad “sign-you-sight-us”…..

How to look confident… even though you’re speaking in public (Douglas Kruger)

If you’re nervous about the next big presentation, try these 12 tips to create (the perception, at the very least!) of confidence:

Get a copy of the agenda, so that you know when you will be speaking, and how much set-up time is available to you. Work out beforehand whether you will need to change laptops or slides between presentations, and who can help you do so, so that you don’t have to fiddle at the beginning of your talk.

Thoroughly rehearse your presentation beforehand. You can do this both as a mental exercise, as well as out loud. Ever got half-way through telling a joke, then realised you had botched the set-up? That’s what tends to happen if you don’t practice a speech. You need to be familiar with what goes where. If you are able to rehearse in the actual venue, then so much the better. There is no substitute for having ‘done it already’.

Use checklists for anything that causes you anxiety. For example, if you have to travel to your venue, use a checklist of items to take with. If you struggle with equipment set-up, use a checklist of ‘how to’ steps. Take any measures to make your life easier on the day.

The MC is your friend. Get to know him or her well in advance. Bring your own intro and discuss your needs with him. Find out if there have been any unexpected changes.

Presentation Skills – Stage (Great Public Speaking)

Also check to see that any risers and stairs to the risers don’t squeak and are sturdy. You may fall down on purpose some time for fun, but you don’t want to accidentally fall if you can help it. If you do fall, use a pre-planned ad-lib like: “Give me an inch and I’ll take a fall.”

I think I found the cause of the Office 2011 toolbar bug (Idea Transplant)

I was in the process of designing a beautiful chart on my new Mac when I got too confident and decided to modify the toolbars of PowerPoint 2011 and… lost all my work again (see my previous rant about this bug)

In sbort: if you customize your toolbar in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac, the program will crash as soon as you enter slideshow mode. Googling around reveals that many users have similar problems: corrupt toolbar files that cause crashing. I decided to dig a bit deeper…

 

Might Have Missed List (03/20/11)

YouTube — South African MP falls off chair

(Hint: Don’t ignore the any cracking noise made by the chair you are sitting on.)

SplitSider — Eight Types of Hecklers and the Comedians Who Shut Them Up

In the 2007 documentary Heckler, Joe Rogan says that “the number one thing about hecklers is 100% of them are douchebags.” A stand-up comedian’s act depends on the audience reaction by nature, but when someone attempts to derail the performer’s work, well, that’s something a douchebag would do.

TJ Walker — Never, Ever, Ever, Ever Apologize

They complain that they didn’t have time to rehearse their PowerPoint or that their video wasn’t working with their other software or their staff didn’t prepare the right material-everything but the dog ate their speech. It’s embarrassing, and yet it happens all the time. Before you make such an egregious blunder, stop and realize one thing: Your audience doesn’t give a darn about you. They don’t car about the process you went through to creat your presentation; they just want the results of your preparation.

Might Have Missed List (03/13/11)

forbes.com — Road Warrior Secrets

Coach Walsh always thought it was better to experience pucker-butt in practice, with crowd noise blasted over the speakers, rather than face it for the first time in a game.

Road warriors similarly should prepare themselves for the worst. Assume that you might catch a cold on the first day of a 10-day business trip. That you will have too little sleep. That your bad back will flare up on a crummy hotel bed. That you will have diarrhea, or its opposite. That your big speech will be scheduled for 3 a.m. in your local time zone. That the presentation room will be too warm. That the stage lights will give you flop sweats or a migraine. That your audience will be bored, even hostile.

How will you cope?

Accepting that these disasters might happen is half the battle. A prepared mind removes the panic out of any mishap. The other half of the battle is bringing the right weapons. As a 200,000-mile-per-year traveler, I never leave home without the following pills and potions. All are over-the-counter and safe at their recommended dosages.

Get Speak Schmeak — Your time’s been cut – what do you do?

You prepare an hour-long presentation. You arrive at your venue, get set up, and are ready to go on time, but the meeting starts ten minutes late. Then there is business up front, and the discussion goes on longer than planned. Now your talk, which you had planned for an hour, is going to be cut down to 35 minutes.

What do you do?

beFluent — When Your Presentation Doesn’t Go Well

The first thing to remember when that this-isn’t-going-well panic sets in is that whatever you’re worried about probably isn’t that big of a deal. Seriously. Those few seconds where you struggled to find the right word or the time you accidentally clicked to the next slide early will likely be forgotten by your audience – if they noticed them at all.

Professionally Speaking… — No Time for Presentation Practice

Yet, practicing a presentation is the single biggest thing that can reduce anxiety, enhance confidence and maximize the likelihood that the audience will get value — all things that are highly desirable outcomes for any presenter.

Here are my tips for finding some elusive time to practice a presentation…

the status Kuo — Why do people fail at presentations

The other big mistake the speaker committed today was not properly acquainting himself with the equipment he was using for the presentation. One of the biggest distractions throughout the entire event was the speaker fumbling with the remote control. As he had trouble changing slides every single time, he was unable to maintain control of an idea from item to item.

Just Passing Through — Feb 25, Ashland Theatre

An impossible onstage mishap took place in the play: a letter was to be dropped from the rafters onto the floor near the actor who was to read the letter. Instead, the letter fell through the slit at the edge of the closed trap door. The odds of that happening have to be about a gazillion to one! Someone from below the stage slipped the letter back up through the slit and the actor grabbed it with much relief! Lots of applause and laughter from the audience.

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 (02/06/11)

Saturday Night Live — Bachmann’s Second Attempt

(“The presentation you just saw was done on a reduced budget”)

Yahoo! News Network — Bachmann’s response marred by technical problems

But if cable news viewers turned to CNN to take a look at Bachmann’s response, the Minnesota congresswoman wasn’t exactly looking back. Instead, Bachmann faced slightly off to the side throughout.

Scott Berkun — An open letter to conference organizers

But it’s commonly forgotten in your trade, or by your sponsors, that speakers are the center of your event. They are the core of the agenda. They are what you advertise. And it’s what speakers promise to teach that gets people to pay to come. Yet once signed up to speak, they are often an afterthought, neglected behind the other critical tasks organizers have to manage.

There are simple and inexpensive ways to solve this problem.

Joyful Public Speaking — Is your speech ready for takeoff? Are you sure?

Lack of attention to details can cause a speech to crash. Checklists are one good way to avoid catastrophes, like forgetting to bring or do something critical beforehand. Checklists are broader than packing lists that only describe what to bring.

Might Have Missed List (01/30/11)

MUST READ: MPA Political, LLC  — Unconventional Wisdom: Events

As I looked back on 2010 and saw the great big failures, they troubled me.  Messaging failures, generally unprepared or unqualified campaign staff, candidates unwilling to learn, listen and/or improve, and of course strategies that were designed to fail from the start…  But then there was a feeling of downright anger.  How the hell can Democratic campaigns fail so often at the very basics of setting up an event?  Does no one teach this stuff anymore?  Do people not learn from event to event?  Do they not see the big greasy piles of fail due to some form of rose colored glasses?

. . .

You should visit and walk the venue, take pictures.  Think about where attendees with enter, where they will gather, will there be food/drinks somewhere drawing the mingling crowd?  How many chairs will there be, how will they be arranged, where will the walkways be?  Are there tables?  Sketch these things out as best you can.

Where will the candidate enter the room?  Will the candidate have access to a “green room”, or a restroom, prior to entering the venue?  When they enter, will they be overwhelmed with the crowd as they enter?  Who will walk the candidate in, meet the candidate at the car/bus?  Will someone be introducing the candidate to the attendees as they mingle?  Will the candidate be going straight to the “stage” upon entering to speak, and straight out after speaking?  How will they enter and exit?

The Eloquent Woman — 5 things speakers should ask the meeting planner

Identify room setup. You should ask questions about the room setup, for instance, will you will be behind a podium, or on a panel? If on a panel, will there be seating behind a table or in separate chairs? If chairs, what kind? This may sound rather anal; however, I’ve seen many presenters on panels who did not know they would be sitting in director’s chairs. If you’re a female in a skirt that happens to be too short or doesn’t easily move when you sit down, this could be rather uncomfortable and potentially give the audience a bit too much to see. Or if your preference is to appear behind a podium and organizers expect you to roam the stage in delivering your remarks, it’s probably best to know that before you arrive.

To allow AV or No AV…that’s an important question. Have you ever showed up with PowerPoint in hand only to learn that there’s no equipment for such use? It may happen more often than you think. Finding out the overall format of the presentation is critical as well as allowances for audio visual equipment, including internet access. Sometimes lack of AV could be a budgetary consideration. At other times, it simply may not suit the program. Make sure to ask about it.

The Official join.me Blog — Darth Vader Was Not Invited To The Conference Call

Your dog is not invited.

Sure, I like dogs. Who doesn’t? But we did not invite your dog to the conference call. So if you’re taking this call from home, then make sure your dog isn’t in the room. Because dogs are unpredictable, and before you know it they are barking and the call is ruined. Don’t make your dog my problem.

Might Have Missed List (12/19/10)

Make A Living Writing — Things I Learned During Webinar Fail

Going with a new platform is risky. Anne and I really wanted to start with a free platform because we didn’t know how many tickets we’d sell. But Freebinar had a fatal flaw — it just happened to have a massive dial-in phone line failure at the time of our Webinar. None of us could get on the call. They fixed it right after we finished. So…that didn’t help, and caused about a 12-minute start delay while we tried to figure out a solution.

No matter how many things you nail down, there’ll be one thing you don’t. Years ago, an engineer told me happiness is redundant systems. I took many precations — I had Comcast out to doublecheck my connection the day before. I used a hard-wired mouse instead of my usual battery-powered wireless one. But we still neglected to do one thing that might have saved us — we could have gotten Anne another Freebinar account, with another phone number. That would have given us another shot at staying live.

Backstage at BackstageJobs —Don’t surprise your crew

Honestly, what reason could anyone have for not telling the the crew about these things in advance?  What good does it do to hold onto this information?  Assuming they “can just do it” falls along the lines of “theatre is magic.”  Theatre is magical: to experience.  But we’re not using magic to create it, we’re using plans, schedules, computers, gravity, acoustics, and timed choreography (yes, backstage).  Throwing a sudden change into this can be a problem, but throwing a planned change at us suddenly makes us mad.  Why?  Because if we had known about it, we could have done it better.