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.

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Heart to heart…

Principle #9 states that “Everyone knows that it’s essential to rehearse, but not everyone knows how to rehearse what’s essential.”

Is rehearsing the physiological reactions to presenter’s stress essential?

From the Core Daily blog:

No matter how hard you try mentally, it’s difficult to simulate a heightened nervous condition. “It’s not enough to say, ‘Okay, there are two guys on base,’” Afremow says. “You need to get your heartrate up. I challenge them to do some intense cardio for a minute. You recreate that feeling of flight/fight and then practice. That way, you learn that body response.”

Afremow says this applies even to public speaking. Instead of just practicing a speech in front of a mirror, do a minute of cardio and then deliver the speech. That way you practice under the raised heart rate you’re likely to have the day of the speech.

(via Joyful Public Speaking via Olivia Mitchell’s twitter post.)

Four Ways Presentation Mishaps Are Like Zombies...

or “Lesson Learned by Watching Shaun of the Dead.”

1) Until the moment they suddenly become mindless, snarling, death-dealing horrors, a zombie (like whatever it was that caused your current presentation mishap) often appears about as threatening as your Mom. A projector with a burned out lamp looks like any other projector. A virus laden thumb drive looks just like a normal, perfectly healthy thumb drive.

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.

3) Zombie/mishaps are a lot easier to deal with one at a time The problem is they tend to travel in packs. And sometimes, dealing with one can attract a whole lot more. Slow and stupid, they can still overwhelm you with numbers.

4) They can be easy to out maneuver, as long as you have left yourself room to maneuver. Make sure your disaster plan leaves your options open. Shaun and his friend are actually doing pretty well until they let themselves get cornered in the pub.

Even the Gecko has technical difficulties

Tech rule #1: Keep the boss away from the buttons…

“tv anchor falls on television”

What’s remarkable is the way she recovered. Great example of grace under pressure. Had the the presence of mind to throw the broadcast over to the weather guy and seemed to be thinking ahead of the people behind the cameras and even the director. Even thought to reassure everyone she was okay in order to head off a bunch of calls to the station switchboard. Now, if only she hadn’t put herself in the situation to begin with by asking the chair to do something it apparently wasn’t meant to do. Is there a reason the chairs are on wheels?

Clutch Hitting

rollinsHard to believe Spring training is again underway. When it comes to baseball, I’m a complete homer — I always have been and always will be a Phillies fan. The only thing is, I really like  hockey a lot more than I like baseball. So given that the hockey season was well under way by the time the world series final ground to a halt, it was relatively easy to come to terms with the fact that the Phils couldn’t quite pull off the repeat. But out of the the deluge of the press coverage documenting their ultimately unsuccessful campaign came this quotes from the Phillies’ cunning old manager Charlie Manuel:

“He likes the moment,” Manuel said. “He wants to be there, and he can control his adrenaline and he can handle the moment.”

Manuel is describing Jimmy Rollins after his clutch hit won them game four of the NLCS in the bottom of the ninth.

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.

Bookmarked: The Oops Factor (Two Well Read)

The Oops Factor (Two Well Read) – “It is a fact if you perform live, sooner or later you will meet with a genuine, bona fide onstage disaster. Generally, these seem to fall into two categories. The first is the self-made conflagration where lyrics evaporate into thin air, the high note that was there at sound check mysteriously vanishes in performance, clothing falls apart, and stools move themselves about the stage so that you find yourself in a heap on the floor. I could go on, but being the superstitious type I’ll stop here. The second is the stuff performance legends are made of, those moments where, despite your diligent rehearsal and careful plotting of every moment, elements beyond your control enter in and all hell breaks loose. Sometimes it comes from your fellow musicians onstage, sometimes from the tech booth, and sometimes from that ever unpredictable element, the audience.”

[Great stories in the post as well as in the comments. Artistic presentations oops are as much fun business presentation disasters.]

Bad Signs

©iStockphoto.com/Viorika

©iStockphoto.com/Viorika

They call the meeting venue’s electrician “Sparky”. Unfortunately it’s not so much a affectionate, if clichéd, nickname. It’s more a description of his work.

Inspired by a Nicholas Bate post from earlier in the week. (BTW, check out Nicholas’ terrific ongoing series, How To Be Brilliant: 1-50, currently on number 39.)

Bookmarked: Jackman – Can You Hear Us Now? (TMZ.com)

Jackman – Can You Hear Us Now? (TMZ.com) – “Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig were trying to perform their play “A Steady Rain” Wednesday night in NYC — but some nitwit forgot to turn off his mobile phone. Jackman set the dude straight — staying in character all the while. Minutes later, the ring tone echoed through the theater again and Craig’s response was Tony-worthy. Neither actor seemed shaken or stirred.”

[Great example of keeping focused. It's much harder to stay on track like that in smaller venues, say a conference room.]

Bookmarked: Conference nightmares. The many faces of scientific presentations (LabLit.com)

Conference nightmares. The many faces of scientific presentations (LabLit.com) – “Prof “Defeated by technology” provides good entertainment. … I remember well giving a talk at the Hammersmith Hospital in the early days of PowerPoint when, after loading the talk onto their computer, a message came up on the screen saying your talk is being modified by the MRC system. All my demure bullet point diamonds were changed to cheeky TV screens, thereby sweeping aside any gravitas I might have had. My favourite technology nightmare, however, comes from pre-PowerPoint days, back when slides were being used in a carousel projector. One presenter could not get the carousel to work and she was told to turn the carousel over and look underneath. She did this but forgot there was no lid on the carousel. She spent the next ten minutes reassembling her talk from the random pile of slides on the floor while the audience shuffled nervously and some escaped to the bar.”

Bookmarked: How to deal with rough crowds: A stand-up comic’s advice for Sarah Lacy

How to deal with rough crowds: A stand-up comic’s advice for Sarah Lacy – “Lacy got to perform in front of a sober audience. She faced a bunch of nerds yelling at her to ask tougher questions. That sounds like a bubble bath compared to what road comics have to deal with. While I had tougher nights than Sarah Lacy, I didn’t have the blogosphere and video replays exposing my every flaw to the world. Nor did I have to suffer through every two-bit critic’s endless post-game analysis. For that I’m grateful. … If you ever find yourself in a similar situation here’s some advice on how to deal with a rough crowd.” [Given that our culture seems to be moving more and more away from treating anyone onstage with basic civility, dealing with potentially rough crowds is becoming an important skill to acquire and develop.]