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It is no longer being updated.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.

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 (10/19/08)

Subjective: The Artful Life: If I Turn This Off Now We Will Go Into Darkness — Snarky description of a presentation that went very wrong (in more ways than one). “Enter PSU IT guy (well, enter his speaking role anyway, as he’d been poking about at the podium for a few minutes at this point). Oh higher educated IT guy, explain to us simple art enthusiasts why things have gone so wrong: ‘Well, the old projector had this button you could push that fixed this problem and this new projector doesn’t have the same buttons.'”



Life in the Corporate Theater: International Shows — “On Thursday I am headed for Prague, so I started pulling out supplies that I will need for working in Europe.” Great ideas for preparing to work overseas including several items you may never have thought of.

Craig Strachan: A lesson in being prepared — “Last night, I spoke at a function in Cape Town, and I was almost in big trouble.”

If you travel a lot, you might also want to check out One Bag: The Art and Science of Traveling Light.

Signal vs. Noise: Going in Unprepared — “This year I’ve spoken at about a dozen or so conferences and another dozen or so meetings or classes or gatherings. What I’ve started to notice is that I’m better unprepared.”

Blue Room technical forum: Macs, The pick of the current crop is…? — “After a day of trauma with several visiting speakers turning up with presentations prepared on Macs, and them only sort of working on PCs, I’m thinking that the best fix may be to get a Mac myself. Never having used one in anger for this sort of stuff, I thought I’d ask here as well as my friendly Geek forum.”

Great Public Speaking: Keystone Effect — “When a projector is not exactly on a level plain with a projection screen the projected image is not symmetrical.”

The Next Meeting: Making every second count at virtual meetings — “The key to achieving a successful virtual meeting is being prepared for both the expected and the unexpected. That means you must take your personal knowledge of your own virtual team and all the virtual office jobs concerned and use them to anticipate all the things that you might encounter when holding meetings.”

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (09/28/08)

Blue Room technical forum: Wifi interfering with Radio mics, Strange goings on — “The strange problem we are having is that at some venues we seem to have a conflict between the radio mics and wifi, whilst at other venues there is none. When there is conflict, the signal stength on the Sure recievers is all over the place (normally rock solid in this size venue) and the signal drop out is very high, this occurs over all frequencies in the group. With all radio mic transmitters off, there is no sign of a signal being picked up from the wifi on the Sure recievers. Looking at the frequencies used by the mics and the wifi there should not be a conflict, but there most definately is at times.”

Speak Schmeak: What not to do at the end of a presentation — “We plan a lot for what to do before and during a presentation, but not much for what to do at the end — or what not to do.”

The Codebelay Blog: How Do You Avoid Presentation Disaster? — “But the code used for my presentation didn’t work because the machine it was working on wasn’t configured correctly. There might have been an issue with someone overwriting my code, too.”

Dave Paradi’s PowerPoint Blog: Presenting when you are not allowed to use a handout — “A participant in one of my workshops recently presented me with a new challenge. In his position as a sales professional, he has now encountered two large organizations who have stated that when he presents to them, he is forbidden from bringing handouts for the audience.”

Lynn Espinoza: When YOU should NOT be the spokesperson! — “You’ve been tapped to be the speaker at an industry event.  There is a nagging feeling deep inside your gut that you are being set up for failure.  The content for the speech is not your own, and in fact this is not your area of expertise. You feel like you’re over your head. Guess what? You are.”

Mary Hanna: A day for nitpickers — “The room was full of professional speakers, both beginning and accomplished. The presenter, a well-known marketing expert, was talking about achieving credibility as a speaker. A bullet on his PowerPoint slide, which I was following on the handout, said ‘Always site your sources.’ As I always do, I corrected the handout, crossing out ‘site’ and writing ‘cite.’ I turned to my friend and pointed it out. She acknowledged it with a nod. ‘It affects his credibility,’ I whispered.”

TJ Walker: Should I rehearse and for how long? — “Yes, you should rehearse. From a presentation coach’s perspective, the following 25 words are the dumbest phrase in the English language: ‘I don’t want to rehearse because I don’t want to seem canned. I want to seem spontaneous and fresh so I’ll be better winging it.’ Ugh!!!”

CNET News: ‘Google Moderator’ tool takes on lecture-hall chaos — “There was never enough time for all the questions, and it wasn’t clear that the best questions were the ones actually getting asked,” Heath wrote in a blog post. “And since many of these talks were led by offices outside of Mountain View, it became harder for distributed audiences to participate.”

blogcampaigning: Public Speaking Tips — The last one is best.

Brad Montgomery: What to do when your humor fails? — “When I coach others about how to be funny, I teach saver lines. Basically, these are jokes that you tell after a joke goes bad to “save” the situation. Johnny Carson was the king of savers. I just found this video….check out the master.”

KNOWHR: Writer’s Remorse — “Here’s what else I know: Those last-second edits rarely add anything to the quality of the communication.”

Great Speaking Coach: Avoid the Deadly Quotations Trap — “Why not? Because what could be a living, memorable moment when delivered by you with vocal variety and gestures becomes a flat, two-dimensional inert set of words.”

The Power of Reflection: Do You Make This Mistake When Ending Your Presentations? — “Gord’s terrible ending damages his career.  He looks weak and indecisive.  His presentation fails to generate any enthusiasm for his cause.”

Question of the Week: Five Finger Discount

hamburglarA recent post on Blue Room (a discussion board for folks who work backstage) deals with an interesting subject: “How much stuff have you had stolen?” I’d like to continue the discussion here since having equipment stolen is most definately a case of Murphy’s Law.

Using the poll in the left sidebar, please answer the following:

Have you ever had any equipment stolen?

  • Yes, I’ve had mission critical equipment stolen (it was a really, really cruddy day).
  • Yes, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t live without (at least temporarily).
  • No, I’ve either been seriously lucky (knock on wood) or I’ve been very cautious.

If it’s not too painful, we would all really appreciate it if you would be willing to share what happened in a comment to this post. What was stolen and how did they do it? Did you get it back? Any lessons learned that you would like to pass on to the rest of us?

If you haven’t been in this difficult situation, what procedures (if any) do you have in place to prevent it from happening? Or are you just seriously lucky?

There are a couple aspects of this issues that might be worth a closer look. For instance, are there particular types of venues that are more likely to become crime scenes. Is equipment more vulnerable in transit or at the venue?