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Don't be "That Guy"

You know the guy* I mean.

The guy who…

  • ŠiStockphoto.com/theprint

    ŠiStockphoto.com/theprint

    insists on making multiple, tweaky, obviously non-essential slide changes minutes before going on (this behavior is very much akin to the way he treats waiters in order to provide evidence of his place in the pecking order).

  • loses temper in an extremely unprofessional way when these unimportant, last minute, “emergency” changes weren’t done right and are projected during his presentation.
  • loses temper in an extremely unprofessional way when something important gets screwed up because of unimportant, last minute, “emergency” changes (i.e., slides in wrong order, old slide not deleted).
  • points out screw up caused by making unimportant, last minute, “emergency” changes to the entire audience and announces, “I don’t know what happened, I guess the AV guys messed up.”
  • comes to the meeting with non-PC and/or non-PPT slides files without letting anyone know in advance.
  • loves unusual, nonstandard fonts, but never bring the font files with him and always forgets where he found them.
  • wanders off with the lavalier mic so the sound guy has to chase him down through the post-meeting crowd, out to the lobby (or in one case, outside to the limo), to retrieve it.
  • shows up at the ballroom the night before the meeting for the final slide review, slightly drunk, very late and more interested in socializing with the other speakers than in rehearsing or finalizing his slides with the graphics tech.

[Disclaimer: the above traits either belong to someone described in a story told to me be a friend in the business or are composite descriptions derived from experiences I had a long time ago in a previous professional life.]

I’m sure everyone has their own list of behaviors particular to the version of That Guy they have most often been exposed to. I mentioned the topic of an earlier version of this post to Ellen Finkelstein and she sent along a few items sure to tick off any AV crew:

  • Forget to tell them you’re using a Mac
  • Forget to tell them that the presentation was created on a Mac, but you’re showing it on a PC, and you’ve never tried it out on your PC
  • Forget to tell them that your presentation has a movie with sound
  • Forget to tell them that in the middle of the presentation, you want to go to YouTube and show the audience a video, so you need a live Internet connection
  • Forget to tell them that your going to ask for audience participation, so you need a couple of microphones in the audience area
  • Forget to tell them that you like to walk around the audience while you speak, so you need a wireless lapel mic
  • Forget to tell them that your laptop doesn’t reliably work with projectors because Dell stopped selling the model and doesn’t support it any more and you upgraded it to Windows Vista and so there’s no updated graphics driver (Yes, that’s me!)

It’s important to recognize that That Guy isn’t always a presenter, as blogger and AV tech “the urban cowboy” can testify:

i’ve worked as an AV tech for a good while now and it can be a long, hard, thankless slog. i’ve thought nothing of a 70 hour week, or a two-day rig that’s been changed at the last minute.
or a client turning up and knowing your job better than you do, even though it’s their first ever live event.
or making a speaker cable out of a 4-way because some idiot didn’t put enough in the cable trunk.
or getting the blame for a microphone not working, and it turns out someone in the audience has turned it off.
or rigging an event one day, turning up the next day to run it and finding one of the cleaners has stolen the projector.

or camera-men falling asleep.
or finding that a crew-member has plugged the entire video/graphics rig, satellite feed and the comms system into one 13-amp socket.
…. i could go on…

There are two reasons not to be That Guy.

First, That Guy tends to scatter a trail of presentation mishaps, difficulties and disasters behind them as they go from meeting to event to conference.

Second, That Guy is least likely to inspire the support team to go to heroic lengths to save the day when things go very, very badly.

karmaIt’s a perfect example of instant karma. The person most likely to need help from others is also the person least likely to have predisposed those around him to offer more than the minimal amount of assistance necessary to keep the disaster from overtaking the entire project and everyone else involved.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m getting at. I have yet to meet an AV professional who would screw up a meeting or a presentation on purpose. But I do know that there are people you will be dependent on, people you need to be proactive in preventing problems and who need to be performing to the best of their abilities when things go terrible wrong. Make sure you’re the guy who does everything possible to develop a good working relationship with these these folks.

* For some reason, in my mind’s eye, this sort of person is always a guy.

Your Turn:

What are some of the karma killing behaviors you noticed when you’ve been lucky enough to work with That Guy? Do you suspect you might be That Guy? Has you ever worked with That Gal? Please share your thoghts as a comment to this post.