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.

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This blog was active from April, 2008 to July 2012.
It is no longer being updated but will continue to be maintained for reference purposes.

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David Craig’s post “Dealing with Tech Failure” includes, along with a couple other good tips,  a reminder of what it really requires to be completely prepared for video failure during your presentation.:

Video in a presentation is a tricky proposition even if everything works properly. Anything more than a short clip gets tedious for the audience in a hurry. But if you insist on including video in your presentation, be ready to describe the entire content of the video if it doesn’t play. That’s what TV newscasters have done for decades when the film, the tape or a live feed doesn’t work.

Might want to give some more thought to how important, how critical, that flashy piece of video really is to making your point.

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.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (11/07/10)

Bonjour Events — Preparing your Speakers for the Stage

One conference I was producing was set to start in three hours when I got a call from the car service that the company president, our second speaker on the printed agenda, was no where to be found at the airport.  I called his cell to hear, “Oh yeah, I’m catching a ride on a friend’s jet. Oh and I invited Jeff to join me. ”  Ah, yes Jeff, our third speaker.  I say, “You know you’re on at 1pm?”  “Yes, we’re taking off in a few minutes, it’s a fast plane.”

A Collection of Nonsense (Tim Washer) — When PowerPoint Attacks: 6 survival tips

If you forced me to rank the places where I would most prefer not to look like an idiot, the Harvard Kennedy School would come in fourth.   Or maybe sixth.  Some of history’s most eminent figures have spoken there, like Jack Donaghy. But even after a successful tech-check before the presentation, things can go terribly wrong.  Especially if you’ve embedded videos into a powerpoint presentation. I was attempting to show two commercials, but another video popped up, and what’s worse, the audio was out of synch with the video.  But here’s what I’ve learned…

Communications from DMN — When a (presentation) disaster strikes

I went blank.

Stage fright. Freezing up. A very pregnant pause. None of those terms really sum up what happened to me during that talk. I went all tabula. As in rasa. It wasn’t pleasant, for me or for my audience.

The Weekly Might Have Missed List (10/31/10)

Fearless Delivery (Lily Iatridis) — Top Ten True Presentation Mishaps

#2- Vehicle in parking lot just outside the building catches fire and burns to a crisp. The room where I was giving my presentation had large windows just a few yards from the burning vehicle, so we were all mesmerized.  Not only that, but the heavy fumes from the burning rubber made us evacuate the room, so my presentation had to be rescheduled.  What took the fire department so long?

Public Words (Nick Morgan) — What to do when a speech goes horribly wrong – 5 tips

I once had to give a speech at a Harvard Business School event in one of its very high-tech auditoriums.  The speeches were back-to-back that day, and so I had to break my rule of always rehearsing in the room beforehand.  The A/V person was nowhere to be found.  So naturally the sound didn’t work on the videos I wanted to play.  I enlisted the help of a couple of really smart biz school students and the audience as a whole waited patiently with me as they tried to figure out what was wrong.

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?]

Question of the Week: Grace Under Pressure

grace_under_pressure On Friday, I linked to a video of stage manager Debbie Williams exhibiting aplomb and presence of mind while fixing Brad Pitt’s malfunctioning microphone during the Idol Gives Back concert. We’ve all seen presenters and stage crew deal with difficult situations, mistakes and disasters.

What was the single most inspiring example grace under pressure during a presentation that you’ve had the privilege to witness?

Please share your story in a comment to this post.

Bonus points if you can provide some video.

I’m looking forward to reading your stories.