Plan B

I learned a valuable lesson today.

At the beginning of a critical presentation, my laptop hung, leading to 15 minutes of small talk and stalling while I attempted to overcome the technical difficulties.  By the way, 15 minutes feels like an eternity when a roomful of people are staring you down.  Thank God my engineer was with me; he “tap danced” as I got things back on track.  But this unexpected situation caused me some serious angst and totally disrupted the flow of the pitch.

So what did I learn from this experience?

  • Have A Plan – Discuss ahead of time what you’ll do if something goes wrong that you can’t recover from.
  • Assign Responsibilities – For example:  “You’ll attempt to fix my computer while I head for the whiteboard” (or the exit if things are really bad).
  • Make Copies – Have an up-to-date copy of your presentation on a memory stick that you can easily transport to another machine.
  • Practice the Pitch Without Slides – If all else fails, figure out a way to deliver your message, or at least a meaningful subset of it, from memory.
  • Don’t Forget Your Sense of Humor – Hey, we’ve all been there before.  Things don’t always work like they’re supposed to, so relax, keep it light, and don’t loose you’re cool.

It took a while, but I eventually restarted the presentation, found my groove, and finished strong.  But the next time this happens (which it undoubtedly will), I’ve got a Plan B and will be better prepared to roll with it.

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