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Might Have Missed List (07/17/11)

Gub doo gia bee? (Language Log)

[This post is chock full of all sorts of wonderful things going wrong during a series of presentations at an academic conference. This brief passage represents just a sliver of a very entertaining story]

And the other problem was that, impelled by some irresistible psychological imperative (I saw this later with several other speakers), he instinctively pointed the remote projection controller at the screen, desperately trying to get it to respond. But the computer he should have been pointing the remote at was ten or fifteen yards away on a table in a totally different direction. It was just too counterintuitive to turn 180 degrees away from the screen, so his back was toward it, in order to change the screen image. We humans are simple mammals, and we imagine that what we are focusing on is where the action is. So his clicking away with the remote was not being detected by the computer, and even if it had been detected, he would have had no idea whether anything had happened to the screen as a result.

Presentation Tip: First Impressions Matter (Professionally Speaking…)

Be prepared, with AV equipment checked, handouts sorted and slides ready. If you seem disorganized and rattled over logistics, your audience may assume that your presentation will be equally disorganized.

How to recognize someone for their service to an organization when they can’t be present in person (Conferences That Work)

  • A week before the event, Nancy and I set up a test call with me calling from the laptop I would be using at the conference. It was good we did this, because it took a while to get Nancy’s camera working. We arranged for her to start Skype when she arrived at work, thirty minutes before we would start the recognition ceremony.

  • About twenty minutes before the call, Nancy was not showing up as connected on Skype. I called her from my cell and she assured me Skype was running. I restarted Skype on my machine & this time she appeared. Phew! During the next few minutes, I muted our audio while the audience assembled.

 

Bookmarked: Conference nightmares. The many faces of scientific presentations (LabLit.com)

Conference nightmares. The many faces of scientific presentations (LabLit.com) – “Prof “Defeated by technology” provides good entertainment. … I remember well giving a talk at the Hammersmith Hospital in the early days of PowerPoint when, after loading the talk onto their computer, a message came up on the screen saying your talk is being modified by the MRC system. All my demure bullet point diamonds were changed to cheeky TV screens, thereby sweeping aside any gravitas I might have had. My favourite technology nightmare, however, comes from pre-PowerPoint days, back when slides were being used in a carousel projector. One presenter could not get the carousel to work and she was told to turn the carousel over and look underneath. She did this but forgot there was no lid on the carousel. She spent the next ten minutes reassembling her talk from the random pile of slides on the floor while the audience shuffled nervously and some escaped to the bar.”

But I can't find a Pepsi anywhere...

Flying into Atlanta Tuesday brought it all back. It’s been a long, long time since I traveled anywhere other than North Jersey or Montgomery County, Maryland while on the job. In a previous professional life, I worked these these huge sales training meetings that required flying a team of ten or twenty people into places slightly more glamorous. Places people might consider giving a body part to go to.

As much as I miss the venues, I miss the camaraderie more. AV and graphic techs, meeting planners, project managers, manager-managers, trainer-trainers. We were like an invading army, piling off planes and into vans, setting up camp in the on-site office and taking over the meeting rooms, unpacking box after box of supplies, subduing vast expanses of carpeted, air conditioned ballroom territory and making it serve our purposes. Putting in killer hours and putting out countless fires.

What I don’t miss are the things we needed to do back then to make sure everything went well. Things that technology has since made unnecessary.

©iStockphoto.com/ohdub

©iStockphoto.com/ohdub

For instance, we were still using 35mm slides. They needed to be in fragile glass mounts (plastic mounts tend to warp and jam the projector) and hand numbered with a sharpie. There was no putting a quick backup copy of your slide files on a thumb drive and tossing it into a your bag. You needed to hand-carry two complete sets of slides to the meeting, preferably using different people on different flights.

Why?

All of this was done in observance of the most important of the Ten Commandments of Doing Everything Possible to Avoid Screwing Up a Presentation: If you can’t do without it, make sure you don’t have to.

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.

Your Turn:

Technology might have made it unnecessary to do things like carrying two brick-like sets of 35mm slides to every meeting but unfortunately, it has made other, new precautions necessary. Which of these new, technology-driven precautions are driving you absolutely crazy. You can use the comment area to vent about it if you need to.