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The Weekly Might Have Missed List (11/07/10)

Bonjour Events — Preparing your Speakers for the Stage

One conference I was producing was set to start in three hours when I got a call from the car service that the company president, our second speaker on the printed agenda, was no where to be found at the airport.  I called his cell to hear, “Oh yeah, I’m catching a ride on a friend’s jet. Oh and I invited Jeff to join me. ”  Ah, yes Jeff, our third speaker.  I say, “You know you’re on at 1pm?”  “Yes, we’re taking off in a few minutes, it’s a fast plane.”

A Collection of Nonsense (Tim Washer) — When PowerPoint Attacks: 6 survival tips

If you forced me to rank the places where I would most prefer not to look like an idiot, the Harvard Kennedy School would come in fourth.   Or maybe sixth.  Some of history’s most eminent figures have spoken there, like Jack Donaghy. But even after a successful tech-check before the presentation, things can go terribly wrong.  Especially if you’ve embedded videos into a powerpoint presentation. I was attempting to show two commercials, but another video popped up, and what’s worse, the audio was out of synch with the video.  But here’s what I’ve learned…

Communications from DMN — When a (presentation) disaster strikes

I went blank.

Stage fright. Freezing up. A very pregnant pause. None of those terms really sum up what happened to me during that talk. I went all tabula. As in rasa. It wasn’t pleasant, for me or for my audience.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (10/31/10)

Fearless Delivery (Lily Iatridis) — Top Ten True Presentation Mishaps

#2- Vehicle in parking lot just outside the building catches fire and burns to a crisp. The room where I was giving my presentation had large windows just a few yards from the burning vehicle, so we were all mesmerized.  Not only that, but the heavy fumes from the burning rubber made us evacuate the room, so my presentation had to be rescheduled.  What took the fire department so long?

Public Words (Nick Morgan) — What to do when a speech goes horribly wrong – 5 tips

I once had to give a speech at a Harvard Business School event in one of its very high-tech auditoriums.  The speeches were back-to-back that day, and so I had to break my rule of always rehearsing in the room beforehand.  The A/V person was nowhere to be found.  So naturally the sound didn’t work on the videos I wanted to play.  I enlisted the help of a couple of really smart biz school students and the audience as a whole waited patiently with me as they tried to figure out what was wrong.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (09/19/10)

associationTECH — Tech the Mic…Tech 1…Tech 2…Tech Tech Tech

It seems absurd the amount of preparation that goes into a session only to have the session falter at the end because of an AV situation that could easily have been avoided. A great example is a session I went to about using video for associations. Great information and examples were shared there, but the first presenter kept struggling with a slow connection whenever she wanted to play a video. The first couple of times I felt sorry for her, but after that I grew annoyed. Why didn’t she have a backup plan for something as finicky as video? Why didn’t she have some videos stored directly on her laptop, so she didn’t have to rely on the internet? Had she checked her connection and the buffering time before the presentation?

Life in the Corporate Theater — Let the Games Begin (Dispatch from Moscow)

We immediately decided to have the AV Vendor show us all of the equipment so that we wouldn’t have any surprises as 7:00 pm.

To start off, we requested a 16 channel mixer, with a minimum of 10 XLR inputs. They provided a 12 channel mixer with 8 XLR Inputs. We requested a minimum of 4 channels of graphic equalizers, and they provided 1 channel. We asked about the wireless microphones, and fortunately, the 5 microphones we requested were there, all thrown kinda loosely in a case. They informed us that they had  “Madonna” mics and we asked if they had regular Lavalier mics. They said they did, but that the “Madonna” mics worked much better. We told them that we understood that, but that the presenters would never wear a Madonna style headset mic. It turns out that the Lav mics are omni directional, and I am going to have to struggle against feed back for sure.

Next they showed us the video switcher, and while it was a lot closer to being right than the DJ Mixer that they gave us in St Petersburg, it was only a two channel input switcher and we need four channels.

We asked about cables for everything and while they may have brought enough for what they thought we would need, it was clear that they underestimated what we really needed and we had to make a quick inventory on paper of what we wanted.

ReadyTalk — Conference Blunder Contest (The blunder with the most votes winds two round trip airline tickets)

We had just released our the 3.0 version of our product and had a showcase webinar. It was our largest webinar ever with 1023 people on the line. After telling everyone we would begin in just a couple minutes our CTO left his office for some water and locked himself out. He tried looking for a key and attempted to jimmy the door open, but no good. So in his best Starsky and Hutch impersonation he body slammed the door to break it down. We moved to bigger offices a month ago and that door cost us $800 to replace!

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (09/12/10)

Steve LaRose — Heading to Moscow

The Russian AV Vendor hasn’t given us any level of confidence as of yet, so we all board our planes today with a bit of a feeling of impending doom.

Michael Wade — A Presentations Lesson Reaffirmed

Each participant was to receive a workbook containing some exercises. I had carefully proof-read the material. The person at the training broker had proofed it. The material was then sent off to a print shop. It was at that point when things became interesting.

Despite the pdf format, quite a few pages had been messed up in the electronic transmission. As a result, I learned a couple of hours before the presentation that the workbooks had flaws.

Many flaws.

Lisa Braithwaite — Five things speakers can learn from event planners

4. Be flexible.

“Stuff” happens. Event planners are experts at working around setbacks and figuring out solutions when things don’t go as planned. They don’t panic, they just get busy.

As a speaker, if you have not yet experienced one of these setbacks, it’s only a matter of time before you do. Your technology will fail. Your room will be next to a loud construction site. The speaker before you will go long and your presentation will be cut by fifteen minutes. The trick is to keep going. Sometimes your audience will know there’s a problem, but most of the time, you will be the only one. Keep it to yourself, fix it as quickly and quietly as possible, and move on.

At some point, after all the planning and preparation, you have to let go and accept that whatever happens, happens!

Tod Maffin — Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Started as a Professional Speaker

Backup, Backup, Backup!

This goes without saying, but it surprises me how few speakers have redundant backups. Just last month, I was keynoting a conference and had to go on stage early because the presenter before me couldn’t boot her computer and she had no accessible backup.

Here are the backup methods I use and recommend:

  • Turn on auto-backups in your presentation software, that way you always have two copies of your slides; in case your computer crashes while saving it, you’ll always have the most recent uncorrupted version.
  • Sign up to Backblaze — it’ll back up everything on your hard disk automatically without you prompting it. It’s only $5 a month. Backblaze is the only system like this I found which can restore a Mac file to a PC and vice versa, if that’s important to you.
  • Before leaving, upload the slides to Dropbox.com or something similar.
  • Finally, if you’re on a Mac, tell Keynote to also save an additional copy as a PowerPoint presentation and upload that to Dropbox.com too.

But backups aren’t just for files — I carry my own backup wireless mic, fresh batteries, and a separate cheap GSM cell phone, so that in the event mine craps out I just have to pop my SIM card into the new phone and I’m back in business again.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (09/05/10)

Ellen Finkelstein — Outstanding Presentations Workshop

Learn from the Top Presentation Experts in the World!
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Would you like to ask questions and get answers from top presentation, PowerPoint, and speaking experts?

Join my new Outstanding Presentations Workshop webinars, for free! Learn how to eliminate Death by PowerPoint and make your presentations come to life as you listen to guest experts share their best techniques and answer your questions!

Phil Presents — Presentation Pitfalls #7: Slide synch (or lack of)

While the speaker was fiddling with his envelope, someone else advanced the slides too quickly, and revealed the winner’s name to all but the speaker before the envelope had even been opened. Doh! Not only did this make the speaker look silly, it made everyone think less of the organization of the event, both for the Powerpoint slip-up and for even using ceremonial envelopes when the winners were already on the slides.

Webinar Crusher — What If I Screw Up A Live Webinar And How Do I Recover?

If you think that your first webinar is going to run perfectly, you’re wrong. If you think that your first 20 webinars are going to run without any problems, you’re also wrong. Things are going to happen. Maybe your Internet connection will die or Go To Webinar will not display your screen correctly. Maybe your PowerPoint won’t show up or you will lose your PowerPoint. You might be all ready to demonstrate a site for your viewers only to find out that the site is down for maintenance.

Instead of crossing your fingers, hoping nothing will ever go wrong, no, that things will go wrong. When these things do go wrong, what do you do? Always have some kind of a backup plan.

No Sweat Presentations! — When You Speak, Don’t Jingle or Deliver Other Distractions!

Other personal distractions could have to do with your appearance

  • A stained shirt or jacket
  • Food on your face or in your teeth (I’m not kidding.)
  • Too flashy jewelry that sparkles too much.
  • Outrageous clothing that ’sends its own message’

There are some preventative measures that can be taken to avoid delivering distractions.

  • Empty your pockets before speaking.  No coins or keys = No Jingle!
  • Have a friend in the audience quietly ’signal’ you if you start swaying or rocking.
  • Put a Post Note on the lectern or on top of your notes or mind map with a reminder
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before a presentation.
  • Practice – Practice – Practice
    • In front of a mirror.
    • In front of friends and family.
    • In front of a camera.
  • Look in a full length mirror before coming to the lectern.
    • Check:
      • Clothing – zippers, buttons, for lint & hair
      • Self – hair, face

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (07/05/09)

MadTV — Drunk Powerpoint Presentation (Somewhat NSFW)

Wired Presentations — Sometimes a Mistake Pays Off

All is well until a guy in the first row said, “my notes didn’t match what you were discussing.” Someone from the back chimed it, “Mine don’t match either.” Yep, Jeff had been bitten by Murphy’s Law.

It seems that I pulled a chapter from the course management system while the other developer had been working on a different chapter in our common work area

Pivotal Public Speaking — Funny Presentation Training – how many errors can you find?

This is a video produced by a presentation training company as an example of how NOT to make a PowerPoint presentation.

PPTools — Keep the session alive (prevent screensaver, logout problems, mouse jiggler)

Occasionally we get questions about how to keep the screensaver from kicking in, usually from people whose corporate IT people have locked down the computer to the point where they can’t change the screen saver settings themselves. In other cases, the computer may log them out after a period of inactivity.

Blue Room technical forum — Fire alarms vs. haze…

Hit a minor issue at the place I’m currently working at today, as I managed to evacuate the entire school when demonstrating the haze machine… I’m fully aware of the cap over the sensor or isolating the particular part of the building that the haze machine is being used in to solve this problem, but the school (despite a huge amount of persuasion from me) don’t want to do either of those, as they are concerned for the risk implications.

Nothing To Do With Arbroath —Missing cat appears on BBC1’s Question Time

A cat owner only realised her ginger Tom was missing when a friend rang to say she had just seen him – live on television. Tango appeared on screen on BBC1’s Question Time as David Dimbleby, politicians and pundits discussed topics as diverse as the wearing of burkhas, the situation in Iran and MP’s expenses.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (06/28/09)

poppinsTheater Loop — ‘Mary Poppins’ breaks down in Chicago; Nanny stuck in no-fly zone

A computer central to the new touring production of Disney’s “Mary Poppins” malfunctioned about 15 minutes into Saturday night’s Chicago performance at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, causing the entire show to be shut down and the frustrated audience sent home.

[A couple of the article’s comments seem to focus on the fact that there should have been a backup system in place. Brings to mind BML Principle #1: If you can’t do without it, make sure you won’t have to.]

Speak Schmeak — How to aggravate your audience

Audience members became more and more agitated, yelling out, “We can’t hear you!” and “Louder!” It didn’t seem like the officials even understood what was going on. A sound person would periodically run up on stage and fiddle with the sound system, then go back and sit down, but nothing changed.

Control Geek — Virus Check Fail

Chapter 4 of my book is System Design Principles and one of the things I talk about in that chapter is the impact of virus checkers on the computers we use for live shows.  And here’s why…

Open Loops — Presentation Mistakes: The View From the Audience

Know how to work your equipment – Don’t turn off your own digital projector in the middle of your presentation due to your own incompetence.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (06/21/09)

FAILBlog: Theater Fail

Theme Park Rangers: Celebrate a Dream Come True nearly washed away

I have never seen a parade disintegrate before my eyes, but that’s what happened in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Thursday when I watched the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade nearly wash away. … The princess float got stuck halfway down Main Street. I don’t know if that was because the street was so flooded or just an unfortunate coincidence, but by the time I squished down there, it was stopped dejectedly, Goofy and Donald’s finale float trapped behind it — and the rest of the parade was no longer in sight, having high-tailed it past the castle and into Frontierland. [Nicely detailed story. Includes photos.]

Webinar Wire — Webinar Public Chat: Be Careful What You Ask For

I just finished attending a webinar that at least by certain measures was an unmitigated disaster.

Backstage at BackstageJobs.com — A final thing about the Tonys and Bret Michaels

In a one-time performance with minimal rehearsal, any scene changes should be watched carefully for anyone out of place, or any scenery endangering anyone.  Awards shows and one-time events never go exactly as planned, which is why they are always more difficult than a show done night after night.  Someone should have been watching, and someone should have stopped the piece.

controlbooth.com — What to do when waiting for a show to start

I check cues, stay on headset to make sure nothing comes up preshow backstage electrics-wise, make sure that no one tries to use the internet on the show control computer that runs sound and sometimes MIDI (this has come so close to having very bad consequences before), and surfing the internet on my laptop which is next to the console.

Dave Paradi’s PowerPoint Blog — PowerPoint Tip: Reformatting a presentation

What should be easy turns into a nightmare with content moving all over the place and hours spent reformatting each slide by hand.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (06/14/09)

Strelitzia — Wardrobe Malfunction

©iStockphoto.com/sampsyseeds

©iStockphoto.com/sampsyseeds

In back? There were buttons in the back? I craned my neck to see and then turned to look back into the hall mirror. Oh my. Apparently there were buttons in the back, from the waist to the hem. The dry cleaner had unbuttoned every single one of them to facilitate ironing. And failed to button them back.

Fortify Your Oasis — Presenting: they shouldn’t notice your technology

On the other hand, Mr Obama’s detractors have a point – not because he relies heavily on the Prompter, but because he doesn’t use it very well and, for his less-than-soaring rhetorical moments, that can distract from his message. I haven’t noticed him ‘blow it’ on the prompter during an important speech, but his ping-pong head movement does become noticeable when I see him doing minor stuff under the 24 hour glare of coverage.

Excellence in Presentations — Multiple speakers in a presentation

Those invited speakers would talk as if the other speakers never existed even though all of these environmental laws are related. They would show up 15 minutes before their own presentation and leave right after it. They had no idea what came before and after them. The end result was a series of totally disjointed and unconnected presentations that was confusing to the audience.

Fleeting Glimpse Images — Who says you can’t take it with you? The crew!

It seems like weekly there is a televised news story of passengers being evacuated from an airplane. No matter what the problem, if an emergency evacuation of a plane is ordered, you must leave behind any of your carry-on luggage stowed under the seat or in the overhead compartments. Unless you are careful, this also includes leaving your data behind.

Nick Morgan — Announcing the Worst Conference Experience Ever Contest

The contest begins with this posting and will run through the end of next week.  Entries must be 200 words or less, and my decision is final.

So bring it on.  Was it a memorably bad speaker?  A particularly stupid theme or breakout session?  A location?  An audience?  What made the experience awful?  Dish it out, and we’ll compare notes as they come in.  It’s time to raise the game by punishing the evil-doers.

Suzanne Neve Events — Rain, Rain Go Away!

Rain or shine, it is important to be prepared for anything that mother nature may throw at you on your big day. Below are some ideas to help with your planning.

FAIL Blog — Demonstration Fail

YouTube — Bret Michaels Gets “Dropped” at Tony Awards

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (06/07/09)

wedding

©iStockphoto.com/Norlito

So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager… — I STILL Want To Get Married Outside

Wait until she gets the bill from the DJ that she forced to setup his equipment in the damp wedding garden. His extension cords sat on the rainy grass and kept blowing the circuit breaker and finally burnt out one of his speakers.

The Webinar Blog — Bad Press For Webinars

When I work as a guest speaker or moderator, I typically use two computers and two phone lines. It’s ridiculous overkill and seems silly… Right up until the first one fails. That doesn’t happen very often at all, but if you do enough webcasts, it eventually will.

Pro Humorist  — How Room Design May Affect Your Presentation

You also want to make sure that you’re not involved in the opposite extreme of speaking in an atrium or, even worse, outside. I did in a gig in a atrium once and it was like being in a huge greenhouse. Hundreds of plants everywhere, running water and… swimming fish; I wish I was exaggerating. The danger with a place like this is that there are too many distractions for the audience. Not only that but due to the spaciousness, lack of seating and super high ceiling the laughter didn’t exactly contage.

Speak Schmeak — Awkward

Upon receiving her award for Best Female Performance, she proceeded to give her acceptance speech, clearly nervous. While balancing the heavy award in her hand, she lost her grip and it went flying several feet onto the floor as she desperately tried to catch it.

Presenting Matters — Presentation Mishaps: The Mental Game of Bouncing Back

We have all been there… You work hard to prepare for the big day. The success of the moment rests on your shoulders. You are focused and determined to make this presentation powerful and persuasive. And then… something goes terribly wrong. It doesn’t work out the way you anticipated. You leave bewildered and in shock at the disappointment. What now?

todmaffin.com — Whistler help needed urgently!

Agh! I just arrived in Whistler to give a presentation tomorrow morning and en route my MacBook Pro died.

controlbooth.com — Monkey Walk

1. n – A final check of a facility done before leaving to make sure you’ve packed up all your gear. The idea is that you walk through the facility and touch/ pick-up / move everything to make sure something isn’t hiding, just like a curious monkey.
usage– ” Ok we’re packed! Let’s do the monkey walk.”

Dave Paradi’s PowerPoint Blog — PowerPoint Tip: Equipment to carry when presenting

None of these items are high-end technically, but they are three of the most valuable items I carry in addition to the normal items presenters carry. Think back over your own experiences and see how often one of these pieces of equipment would have been valuable to have. Now you know why I carry them – and suggest you may want to as well.

Presentation Zen — Presentation Zen Design (the book)

As I mentioned before, I’m in the beginning stages of writing and designing another book, this one called Presentation Zen Design. For many of us, there is a hole in our education when it comes to communicating visually, and knowledge of even the basics of graphic design is missing for most people. This book intends to do its small part to help fix this problem by focusing on concrete graphic design principles and techniques in the context of presentation design, though the concepts and knowledge can be applied to other areas of one’s professional life.

FAIL Blog — News Clip Fail