I FEAR LIVE PRESENTATIONS
In case you missed it - there was an epic fail last week when Microsoft unveiled their new tablet.
When the poor (or actually very rich) Microsoft chief executive Steve Sinofsky went to demo the new tablet - it promptly failed as he tried to demonstrate it's rich media abilities. Watching Steve continue to deliver his carefully scripted and professionally coached patter while desperately trying to restart the now bricked tablet was hysterical...until I started remembering all the times it has happened to me.
My first epic fail happened years ago while hosting a sales event at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun.
It was for the same company a few month later that things went from bad to worse. We were attending CES (http://www.cesweb.org/) to introduce a new product - this time a cord management system.
The last fail happened in Rimini Italy at a global sales meeting.
With sales directors from all around the world we had carefully prepared powerpoint presentations ready to go for each day. In addition - each sales director in turn had a carefully prepared presentation showing how amazing they were at managing their territory. As expected the first morning kicked off with a few hours of preamble and then the first of what promised to be many incredibly boring presentations.
As we broke for a traditional long Italian lunch - none of us were looking forward to returning. A few hours and several glasses of wine later we returned to the hotel's conference room -and discovered that each laptop in the entire room had been stolen while we were gone. My two memories are the hotel manager arguing that it was simply impossible that the laptops had been stolen - we must have misplaced them (and he continued to argue this point for nearly an hour - insisting that we each search our own room to be sure we hadn't left them there by mistake) and more importantly - how well everything went after that. Forcing us all to use a white board and engage with the audience - instead of simply reading off a powerpoint presentation resulted in one of the best sales meetings I've been to.
Since that time I've learned to never rely on anything working live. Showing a new product? Have a picture at the ready. Showing a new website? Have screen grabs ready to show when the site goes down. Using a projector? Bring printouts and a white board marker. Be prepared and have a good restaurant with a great bar picked out in advance for the aftermath.