If Murphy Had Laws for Presenters & Facilitators (Part II)

In my last post I shared a few things that commonly happen to presenters and facilitators that I believe are worthy of fitting under the category of Murphy’s Law.  You know Murphy’s Law: anything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong.  Well, since I titled that post Part I, I felt compelled to produce Part II.  And of course there are plenty of items to add.  As I stated before, I hope my fellow presenters and facilitators find this helpful.

1. The day you decide to ditch the paper and show how technologically savvy you are by presenting from your tablet or smartphone, the range of the wi-fi in the hotel conference center will end at the door to your session.  Or better yet, you’ll have wi-fi, but as soon as you stand to speak from your tablet that little icon that goes in circles, will have a stare down with you.  So you better memorize your presentation, carry a personal wi-fi hotspot as a back up, or better yet keep a hard copy paper back up.  Yes paper can still serve a purpose.

2. Have you ever stood in front of a room and felt like you were all alone?  One minute can seem like an hour.  When the audience and presenter are actively engaged time flies.  When the audience and presenter are disconnected, time stands still. A presentation without the participation of the people is a selfish act on behalf of the presenter. Arrive early and chat/connect with members of the audience.  This simple act can form a bond that connects you during your presentation.

3. Can you tell the difference between the unengaged and the thoughtful audience member?  The person sitting there stoically that appears to not care, isn’t against you.  More often than not, they’re taking in more than anyone else in the room.  Wait till they talk to you after the session – you’ll be surprised at how much they absorbed. Don’t get sidetrack by how they “look”.  People receive and digest information in different ways. Some will respond, some will shake their heads, some will write, some will tweet, and some will just sit, listen and receive.  Just make sure you keep your “game face” on.

4. How do you define thick?  How thick is thick? Apparently “thick” is an ambiguous term.  You did ask for thick markers, but they provided fine point sharpies for your flip charts.  Who can read that from the back of the room?  Heck, who can read it from the front of the room.  I bring a pack of thick markers with me.  This is perhaps one of my biggest communication challenges – I just can’t get everyone to understand what “Thick” means.  Maybe I should start sending a photo.

5. No one knows how a room should be set up like a facilitator, presenter or experienced event coordinator.  Just because a room can fit 75 people that doesn’t mean they can all sit comfortably. Remember it’s not just the fit, it’s how they sit.   Also it’s hard to have small group discussions if there’s no room for small groups to gather. Ask for photos of the room if it’s out of town.  If it’s in town go visit the site and do a walk through.  Clearly define the size/types of tables and configuration – draw pictures if necessary.

6. You’ll have some of your greatest thoughts and revelations while you’re speaking.  You’ll say things for the first time that you’ll have a hard time remembering afterwards.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like saying to the audience, “Excuse me folks, what I just said was pretty good and I’ve never said it that way before.  Let me jot that down and I’ll get right back with you.”  Of course I don’t do that, but what do I do:  I record my sessions and during breaks or exercises I jot down notes on my pad that I keep near.

Well there you have it! A few more of my challenging experiences presenting to large groups of people! If you have any similar stories, please share them!

My name is Charles Weathers. And I’m the founder of the Weathers Group.  If you’re in need of a facilitator, speaker, or presenter please give us a call.  We promise, we’ve learned our lessons! You WON’T have to worry about any of the aforementioned challenges!

If Murphy Had Laws for Presenters & Facilitators (Part I)

I think at some point everyone becomes aware of what is known as Murphy’s Law. But just in case you’ve spent your whole life living under a rock, here is the gist of Murphy’s Law: anything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong. Now whoever this Murphy guy was, I’m fairly certain he didn’t craft a specific set of laws for presenters or facilitators. So I decided to give it a shot.

Now I have personally experienced everything on this list. And even though I make light of those moments here, I can’t stress this enough: they were NOT funny when they happened!  So consider this my effort to contribute to the development and professionalism of my fellow presenters and facilitators. I hope this helps!

  • That powerpoint that you saved to your USB drive and checked before you left the house? It WILL mysteriously disappear when you plug the drive into the computer set up for you at your presentation. So triple check your USB drive AND bring your own computer as a backup!
  • You know that sturdy easel that’s guaranteed to  support your flip chart paper? Well one leg WILL begin to slowly collapse as soon as you start writing.  No, it’s not your imagination, you are bending over more each time you turn around to write. So piece of advice: if the easel you are thinking of using has little strings that hold together flimsy aluminum tubes (not sturdy steel), RUN! Run as fast as you can!
  • You know the handout you printed out and made sure looked all professional? Well somehow page 7 WILL inexplicably disappear. This doesn’t make any sense because you are sure it was there when you printed it out! But it must have escaped somewhere during the journey from the printer to the copier. You’ll most likely find it on the floor of your office the day AFTER your presentation. So stand over the copy machine and COUNT each page as it is fed into the machine! Quality control means you periodically spot check the copies as they are produced!
  • Speaking of copying, are you running behind on your way to your presentation? Well if you are, the copier WILL jam and the toner cartridge WILL leak. And when you call the Xerox office they WILL only have ONE person manning the phones. And your home wireless connection WILL also fail so you won’t be able to print there either. So take my advice, and copy and print early! As early as humanly possible!
  • Remember that powerpoint presentation I mentioned earlier? Well you finally managed to get it up and running and somehow the clicker has decided to stop working! And yes, you didn’t realize for a good 15 minutes. And no, the audience wasn’t just looking at you weirdly for no reason. They were wondering why you kept pointing back at that one slide that never moved. So make sure you check the batteries in your clicker! And if you’re using someone else’s equipment, make sure you’re pointing the clicker in the right direction!

Well there you have it! A few of my terrible experiences presenting to large groups of people! If you have any similar horror stories, please share them!  I’ll share part II in my next post.

My name is Charles Weathers. And I’m the founder of the Weathers Group.  If you’re in need of a facilitator, speaker, or presenter please give us a call.  We promise, we’ve learned our lessons! You WON’T have to worry about any of the aforementioned challenges!