What Would You Do, If it Happened to You

I believe that the title of this post is the last line in The Cat in the Hat, the Dr. Seuss book, one of my favorites. That’s just an aside.

This morning (which would be yesterday morning by the time you read this) I gave a 90-minute presentation on plan-as-you-go business planning for a room full of business people here in Eugene (OR), where I live.

No big deal, I’ve just finished the book on it (due out in August), I know the stuff very well, I enjoy doing that presentation. And no traveling, because it was right here where I live. I got to my office early, did email, drank my coffee, put some fine touches on the presentation (in PowerPoint, on a thumb drive) and took off for the place at 10 after 8. Looking forward to doing the presentation. I like the topic, and I like the slides.

As I was being introduced, I stuck my thumb drive into the computer connected to the projector. No dice. Nothing.

Which brings me to the title of my post: what would you do, if it happened to you?

I thought I’d learned my lesson in this context, back in the 1980s, when I went all the way to Caracas Venezuela for a presentation to an audience of about 3,000 people. The distributor was to provide the projector. For three days I asked to test it, and was assured it was working, no need. But please, let’s just test it. Back then a projector weighed like 300 pounds, it took a pickup truck or something like it to cart it around. No need. And on the day, sorry, doesn’t work.

By the way, there was no Internet connection available to me today. 


  • Rowan Manahan says:

    Tim, Larry and I obviously share a certain vintage, as I too have fond memories of carrying spare bulbs (and gloves!) for OHPs and 35mm projectors.

    In your case – straight into conversation mode, writing on the walls if I needed to in order to capture the areas of concern and ideas of those in the room. I have even used fixtures and fittings to represent concepts – a big plant on a table, 3 chairs piled up, the most senior person present, myself behind a table, a lamp as someone who loves the spotlight – I find these kinds of associative hooks can really have great impact when slides and flipcharts aren't available/working. It's all about content with plenty of movement and energy.

    PS: I always bring my own laptop no matter what and also my presentation on a stick in 2 PPT versions, plus PDF just in case and I have found it useful to burn a CD with the same info just in, just in, case …

    Seeing as you were so familiar with your material, I'm sure your talk went splendidly. I'm looking forward to hearing what you did to save the day.

  • Larry Sheldon says:

    Being an old fart of the old school (35 mm were The Thing, back in the day–could never afford them, and couldn't keep them current when I could or when somebody else was footing the bill.

    So I'd look for a white board, easel, or overhead–but only for about 20 seconds.

    If you know the stuff, and cqn engage your audience, you don't need the crutches.

    And if you don't or you can't, you are wasting everybody's time anyway.

    So if _that_ were the case, I'd go have coffee with the one or two who seemed most interested.

    But I would spend some time wondering why I was there. (According to your set up, that would not be your case.)

    But you know–I would never assume there was a functional dry erase pen there, unless I took it (I always carried chalk in a chalk-holder, in later days, a set of four pens.)

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