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Always, always show up early...

Principle #6 states “If you’re not early, you’re late. A simple problem that would ordinarily not require anything more than time to fix can become a fatal error when the time isn’t available”.

John Richardson posted a great story on Success Begins Today that illustrates why it’s imperative that you arrive at the venue early enough to test every file and every piece of critical equipment.

I put on my suit jacket,  grabbed my MacBook Pro, walked up to the smart podium, connected up the projector cable and waited for my first slide to come up on the screen.

It didn’t connect

I fumbled with the cables, tried different keystrokes, and it still didn’t connect.

I started to sweat, thinking about weeks of work going up in smoke. The audience was getting restless. Here I am, a technology guy, having problems with my Mac and a projector. Pictures of Steve Jobs popped into my mind. Apple products just work… except when you are in front of a restless audience.

Finally, I was just about to give up, when my screen flashed. My first slide popped on the screen, the lights dimmed and I was ready to go. I walked out in front of the podium, addressed the audience, and clicked the button on my Apple remote to advance to the next slide.

Nothing happened

….

What had been a smooth story in my mind at home was now a real problem. I glanced over at the podium, hoping to see my presenters view on my laptop which would quickly show me the next slide. Unfortunately, the podium had a large back edge which blocked my view. I was now on my own. 30 slides to go.

….

Now the remote didn’t work again. I became a contortionist and held the remote behind my back and tried to aim it at the podium without looking. Talk about out of kilter, I had to be a spectacle to my audience.

….

I could not believe all of the problems that I encountered. We were in a brand new classroom, at a state of the art junior college, with some of the latest projection technology. Yet everything went wrong.

The interesting thing was, the next five presenters all had problems too.

Basic Questions Too Often Unasked

(Thanks to Michael Wade for providing the inspiration for this post.)

1) Who will bring the projector?

2) What if the flight is delayed that morning?

3) Where is the presentation backed up to?

4) Are any of the presenters using a Mac?

5) Is that 9 o’clock Eastern or Central time?

6) Are there any protests anticipated at our meeting? In the vicinity of the meeting venue?

7) What time is the hotel going to have the meeting room ready?

8) What if we can’t get online at the meeting venue?

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.

Bookmarked: Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta v2 big success (Julie Yack’s Blog)

Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta v2 big success (Julie Yack’s Blog) – "When his projector failed, presenter James Johnson didn’t let that stop him. He flattened out his laptop and used a document camera to display his screen and presentation for his group."

Bookmarked: Projector problems (Media-savvy’s Blog)

Projector problems (Media-savvy’s Blog) – "A group was giving a presentation and they wanted to show a video. The sound was working, but the video would only show up on their laptop screen, not on the projector. We (the audience) could see the media player, but the rest of the “screen” was black. Did you ever experience the same? What is the problem here? How could it be solved?" [I suggested that they make the projector the primary output. Any other ideas?]

Bookmarked: 10 Things I taught my interns (The Hopkinson Report)

10 Things I taught my interns (The Hopkinson Report) – “If you’re doing a presentation, something will go wrong. … Even with modern advances, getting everything to work right is still very difficult. Every laptop has a different set of key commands to change from the laptop screen to the overhead monitor. There’s never the right dongle to connect to a projector. The speakers are always too loud or non-existent. The internet connection doesn’t work or is too slow. I once did a presentation in front of 250 people involving a laptop hooked to a miniature camera on a tripod that was focusing on the beta version of live features on a prototype cell phone being held in vice grips. I was there an hour ahead of time, and checked everything over 5 times, and believe it or not, I was good to go. That was, of course, until 5 minutes before I went on, when the setup went dead. The unknown cause? The lamp on the projector overheated. … How can you overcome a nightmare presentation? Preparation and alternatives.” [Follows up with good suggestions]

Bookmarked: When the speech hands you lemons… – The Eloquent Woman

When the speech hands you lemons… – The Eloquent Woman – I arrived and learned that the room booked for the event was under construction, a fact omitted from all the booking conversations the organizers had had. (They'd in fact learned of it just within the hour.) The only available space was essentially a storefront space in the same building, nearly too small for the group, with tables and chairs packed in tight rows, and windows to the street so any passerby could watch us, if they cared to. Forget great lighting, and think street noise. Unlike the original space, this room also lacked a lectern, microphone, or projection. (Yes, I had slides.) … We'd planned to videotape the presentation, which involved putting a lavalier mic with a very long cord on me and putting the videographer in one of the storefront window bays. … There’d been just enough notice of the room change that an organizer was able to bring a projector from his office, and it wasn’t quite compatible with my laptop…

Baby it's cold outside...

©iStockphoto.com/bbeltman

©iStockphoto.com/bbeltman

We’re experiencing our first real cold snap of the season here in the beautiful Philadelphia Metropolitan Area so it seems like a good time for a quick, weather-related warning/reminder.:

If your presentation equipment has been allowed to get very cold during transport (maybe because it’s been in your trunk instead of the nice toasty back seat for example), take it out it its case and give it plenty of time to warm up to room temperature before plugging it in and turning it on.

This is especially important for projectors. I’ve never seen it happen, but it’s not unheard of for a projector lamp to explode when going from being off and very cold to suddenly being on and very hot (betterlamp.com — see tip #4). This situation can create a nasty, expensive, dangerous mess that you do not want to experience.

And although there isn’t any danger of something exploding, you should take the same precaution with your other equipment. In the case of stuff like computers or switches, the problem will be an excess of moisture from condensation messing with the delicate electronic bits inside.

It’s probably safest to avoid letting your equipment get so cold in the first place if at all possible. In other words, take care of your projector and it will take care of you.

Toshiba TLP-X200U: Watch your mouth...

The Projector Blog recently reported on the first projector with a voice.

The Voice Guidance feature provides ease of use, preventative maintenance updates and a lower total cost of ownership. The voice guidance system in the TLP-X200U directs users with an audible message through the projector’s operating instructions and system warnings, such as the on/off status, lamp life, air filter checks, and cooling fan status.

They were not impressed. I agree with their assessment that it’s overpriced for it’s specs and the the voice guidance feature is, as they put it, “less than useful.” What I really want to know, however, is how much control do you have over when the projector chooses to speak up? Obviously it will need to be powered up to offer voice guidance, but most of the time I have the projector on, I want it sitting there very quietly, not calling attention to itself, not chiming in while the speaker is making a crucial point.

Has anyone out there had a chance to demo this projector? If so, please fill in some of the details for us.

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!”

If your projector could talk, what would it say to you at a most inopportune time?