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A classic post from James Feudo's Overnight Sensation

Ten Things That Will Guarantee Your Speech Will Bomb. My favorite bit:

7: Don’t check your equipment:

If you’re using PowerPoint, make sure you test the computer, projector and cables you’ll be using – you don’t want any last minute technical troubles. If you need internet access, bring along an aircard just in case the network is down in the building you’re in.

Quote for the next time the projector blub blows on your second slide...

It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.

– Clive James

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 (02/27/11)

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 (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.

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!

Bookmarked: Equipment Photos (Great Public Speaking)

Equipment Photos (Great Public Speaking) – [Fantastic idea for when you're presenting overseas, wish I had thought of it.] "When I arrived as the opening speaker (after having confirmed three times an overhead projector and screen), none was to be found in the room. The manager of the gigantic ballroom could not speak English and because of tight scheduling of other events, I was not able to be in the room early as I always am. I forgot to bring my equipment photographs which would have gotten the point across to the manager immediately whether he spoke English or not. It really didn't matter though, because the projector he finally brought was so terrible I had to scrap all the overheads."

Hypotheticals

gremlinHow about two quick questions, just for the fun of it…

(okay the first one’s a little boring)

Would you rather give a presentation with your slides but not your speaker notes or have your notes but not your slides?

(the second has a little more “zing“)

You’re at the crossroads, it’s midnight, the contract has been unrolled, the pen is ready and it’s time to make the deal.

Carry a spare for EVERY piece of equipment you normally use to do a meeting and the king of the AV gremlins guarantees that you will never, ever have to use them.

In other words, would you be willing to haul around two of everything you typically bring with you knowing you will never need to use the backup because nothing will ever fail? You would propitiate the gremlins by being perfectly prepared to deal with them. Your plan B could no longer involve a quick run to the Best Buy or renting something from the hotel.

(Does that sound too much like a Twilight Zone episode?)

I think that for most people, answer to the second question would really depend on what kind of meetings they were doing and what was at stake. I wonder what offer the gremlins would make someone if they already carried two of everything.

How about you? Would you go with the slides or the notes? Would you make the deal or take your chances?