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It is no longer being updated but will continue to be maintained for reference purposes.

What did you say?

Here’s a gem from meeting planner Deborah Elias’ piece describing the challenges she faced in putting together 3 events in 3 nights:

Never assume your vendors will share information, even among their own staff. Always verify that the appropriate people receive firsthand information for accuracy, then follow-up with a thorough conference call. Despite its convenience, email often leaves too much to interpretation.

Playing keep away...

Keep the cup of coffee away from the equipment.

Keep the welcome reception away from the speaker’s slide review session.

Keep the speaker’s flight time away from the meeting’s start time.

Keep the USB drive with your presentation on it away from the washing machine.

Keep the social media apps with potentially indiscreet popups away from your show laptop.

 

Might Have Missed List (02/27/11)

Via boingboing — The importance of well-secured stage props: video

Princeton Public Speaking — 5 Teleprompter Tips

The teleprompter has gotten quite a bit of recent attention.  After witnessing many faux pas over the past few days, here are five quick tips to make the teleprompter experience a bit more rewarding:

1) Always bring a physical copy of the text with you.  There is nothing worse than discovering that the text you had thought was loaded into the teleprompter was not loaded, or was loaded incorrectly.  In addition, always remember that as with any electronic device, a teleprompter, or teleprompter software, can fail to work properly.

So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager… — The Room Was Setup Perfectly…

When I came in Tuesday the dumb-ass group contact tells me that the room is setup wrong.  WTF!  I’ve got a diagram.  I take my copies of the BEO’s outta my pocket and show her the diagram that was sent to us.

“Sorry, that looks like the diagram from the meeting we had at the Marriott downtown last month.  My secretary made these arrangements, not me”, she said.  “I need this room setup for crescent rounds”, was next.

Meet Prepared — Time to Step Up: Professional Associations and their Risk Management Failures

I was attending a national conference of one of our professional associations within the past two years and was embarrassed when walking into a break out session to find a significant problem. The room’s secondary exit was blocked not only by a large screen but the cart holding the sound equipment also was blocking the doorway. I immediately pointed this out to one of the senior meeting planners and was informed that this set up was done by the venue. I was stunned by a meeting planner so willing to throw the venue under the bus for something that is clearly the responsibility of any meeting planner. So what’s the solution? It seems rather obvious but let me again reiterate that common sense is not common. Any meeting planner should always look at every room set up for issues like egress from a room in case of a fire or other problems where the primary entrance is blocked. Find the time to walk the meeting space after the venue sets up to ensure that not only is it set properly but that things like emergency exits are clear of obstacles.

Might Have Missed List (02/13/11)

Joyful Public Speaking — Mistake-proofing your presentation outfit

If you do a lot of traveling to give presentations, then you might consider setting up a “go bag” to visually organize what you take along. In my February 1st post I discussed the use of checklists. They are one aspect of a more general topic in quality called mistake-proofing, which is the use of process or design features to prevent errors.

Life in the Corporate Theater — The Audio guy’s personal Tech Kit

For those of you that aren’t in the business, What I am referring to as a “Tech Kit” is all of the gadgets that you would bring to a show to help you do your job, basically the way you want to do it.

View From the Ledge — Preparedness…

Strangers might wonder why
That big snow-shovel’s leaning
Against the house in July.
Has it some cryptic meaning?

It means at least to say
That, here, we needn’t be neat
About putting things away,
As on some suburban street.

What’s more, by leaning there
The shovel seems to express,
With its rough and ready air,
A boast of ruggedness.

If a stranger said in sport
“I see you’re prepared for snow,”
Our shovel might retort,
“Out here, you never know.”

– Out Here, by Richard Wilbur from Anterooms

MinnPost — Technological glitches disrupt GOP pitch for high-tech voting system

There was, it should be noted, a standing-room-only crowd of people eager to testify on either side of the election bills.

Kiffmeyer nodded to the man seated next to her to start the video.

He hit a button.

Nothing happened.

He hit more buttons, but still no video showed up on the big screens in the hearing room.

The man was joined by another man. There was fiddling with the computer.

Ah, success.

There was audio!

“A 21st Century voting system …,” the recorded voice began.

But there was a problem. No video.

“Maybe we should save the video until Tuesday,” said the committee chairwoman, Rep. Joyce Peppin.

“Thank you, madam chair,” said Kiffmeyer.

The two men trying to get the video operational kept trying. The audio came on again.

“A 21st Century voting system …”

No video.

Kiffmeyer tried not to look flustered.

“Umm, it’s this technology in the House …,” Kiffmeyer said.

The chairwoman tried to speak. Her microphone didn’t work.

Of course, many observers, including the DFL minority members of the committee, found the day’s technological failure both amusing and ironic.

The Official join.me Blog — Whose Turn Is it? And Who’s Talking?

Even when conference calls aren’t a total waste of time, there’s still two problems that always come up. I have some ideas for how to solve them, but I’d like your suggestions for how to solve them without resorting to violence.

(Trust me, I’ve got that option covered.)

Thought for the day: Practice until…

From Tony Ramos’ Facebook stream:

Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.

Nicely compliments the two Principles of Presentation Disaster Avoidance devoted to practice:

Number 3: If you practice like it’s the real thing, the real thing will seem like a practice.

Number 9: Everyone knows that it’s essential to rehearse, but not everyone knows how to rehearse what’s essential.

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.

A rapid cascade of events

From a post by Richard Fernandez that has absolutely nothing to do with presentations but everything to do with the way things often go wrong:

Once the overall design margin of a system has been eroded, failure when it comes manifests itself in a rapid cascade of events. The hidden stresses suddenly pile on each other and the structure, riddled with hundreds of weaknesses each minor in itself, collapses under their simultaneous impact.

Reminder: InfoComm survey

The Presentations Council over at InfoComm International is surveying all of us presentation professionals:

ARE YOU A PRESENTATION PROFESSIONAL?

Compare yourself with your peers in InfoComm International’s annual Presentation Professional survey. This year it’s shorter, easier and faster to complete. Whether you’re one of many in a corporate setting, or a one-person shop wearing all the hats, see how you compare in the skills you have and the challenges you face.

To thank you for sharing your opinions and experiences, you will receive a free survey report by e-mail.

The survey is at http://infocomm.qualtrics.com/SE?SID=SV_56aKHqv6ZbwQi3O&SVID=Prod . Contact marketresearch@infocomm.org if you have any questions.

Obligatory year-end retrospective post 2008

calendarMost popular guest post based on bad search engine assumptions: The world’s worst wet T-shirt contestLaura Bergells was kind enough to share this story that is still getting getting a lot of hits (for all the wrong reasons).

As I do, a man with 2 steaming coffees in his hands walks briskly towards me. However, his head is turned over his shoulder and he’s yelling to someone far behind him.

Twelve ounces of scalding coffee hits the front of my white blouse. I howl in pain and run to the washroom as the man tries to initiate a conversation about how sorry he is.

Worst anthropomorphization: Toshiba TLP-X200U: Watch your mouth… –The TLP-X200U uses audible messages to interface with the projectionist.

Unexpected things projectors will be heard saying in the future:

  • “Hey Butthead!!! Yeah, you at the lectern. Time to change my filter.”
  • “You never take me anywhere nice anymore.”
  • “Sorry, I just can’t stay focused today.”
  • “Poor Uncle Sony, they said it was death by PowerPoint.”
  • “Stop pushing my buttons!”

Best product placement: But I can’t find a Pepsi anywhere…

It’s sort of like this: if you need to have Pepsi, and you’re headed for Atlanta, be sure to bring your own. The hard part is knowing that you’ll need to do so.

Post most likely to cause retching when read during lunch break: Don’t Kick the Bucket

They were all pros and they all knew the show had to go on. A number of buckets were placed as discreetly as possible around the ballroom for use while the stage was built and the equipment was set up. The smell was pretty bad he said. The sounds were worse.

Post that caused the most comment conversation (perhaps due to the Star Wars tie in): Jedi Knights With Frickin’ Laser Pointers — This was also BML’s first real post. It’s been all down hill since.

The little red dot slides across the audience like he’s a nervous hit man looking for his target. It’s lucky he doesn’t burn out a couple retinas. Whoops, he’s turning back to the screen. Good thing he’s not a Jedi Knight. That evil Sith lectern would be toast. I could almost hear the sound effects from that scene when Luke…

(sorry, got carried away)

Anyway, I think you see the point. If you’re going to use a laser pointer, use it correctly.

Post in which I use the word “Buttwipe” not once, but twice: Breaking Murphy’s Leg — Mom was so proud.

At a previous job, we had a roll of toilet paper, affectionately known as “Buttwipe,” that was thrown into the box with the rest of the  art department’s supplies and shipped to every meeting we worked. The consequences of not performing this act of raw superstition, though unspecified, were too too horrible to consider.

Looking back on the last eight months and 21 days I’m amazed at all the ground covered and all the topics touched on. I’d like to thank everyone who had a hand in getting this thing off the ground — especially those who linked to it, took time to comment or contributed a guest post. Your support for what I’m trying to accomplish is greatly appreciated. I’d also like to wish everyone a happy New year!

InfoComm survey

The Presentations Council over at InfoComm International is surveying all of us presentation professionals:

ARE YOU A PRESENTATION PROFESSIONAL?

Compare yourself with your peers in InfoComm International’s annual Presentation Professional survey. This year it’s shorter, easier and faster to complete. Whether you’re one of many in a corporate setting, or a one-person shop wearing all the hats, see how you compare in the skills you have and the challenges you face.

To thank you for sharing your opinions and experiences, you will receive a free survey report by e-mail.

The survey is at http://infocomm.qualtrics.com/SE?SID=SV_56aKHqv6ZbwQi3O&SVID=Prod . Contact marketresearch@infocomm.org if you have any questions.