The Show Must Go On

The show must go on. That is something I stress to all of my clients when they come to me for public speaking, presentation skills training.

Way back in 2013 I was conducting a day-long workshop in my training studio in midtown Manhattan. It was a group of energy executives in from another state. I was telling them what I am telling you now. Look you have got to have the show go on. No matter what I mean by that is if you are giving a PowerPoint presentation. All of a sudden the bulb burns out. The computer fails. Something locks up or even if the power goes out. You still have to deliver your presentation. You have to speak to people.  You have to present your ideas. If it is 4 o’clock in the afternoon and all of a sudden the power goes out and everyone has to catch a plane at 5. They will be leaving the conference. You will never see them again.  You do not want to have to say. “well I guess they cannot see anything but. You know” you want to present your ideas the best you can.

So that is what I told them at 9 a.m. In the morning. We do a practice session get everyone on camera. They practice their PowerPoint presentations at it 10 11 12. We do this again and again and again. Now we are ready for the final PowerPoint presentation of the day.  All of a sudden it is about 4 o’clock. The power goes out now. It is august 13 2003.  The power goes out for 24 hours in a net.  Now we did not know that. Yet but at this point 4 o’clock the power goes out. The lights go out. This is a TV studio training facility. There are no windows.  So it is pitch black I kind of feel around. I find a flashlight I turn the flashlight on. I help people up out of their chairs safely. We go to the refrigerator get a few drinks. We get out of the office. Fortunately, we are only on the second floor.

So we kind of feel our way down the steps out. Onto the street there is still plenty of sunlight. We all walk half a block to Bryant park in midtown Manhattan. It is a beautiful sunny day. We find six chairs. We form a little circle and guess what we did sit around. Just talk about oh New York city what chose to go to tonight. What restaurants to go to? You know each person stood up and gave his or her final PowerPoint presentation of the day. Now there was nothing projected up on a screen. There were no images but because they practiced all day. They were able to just stand up and present their ideas. Still make their ideas come alive. Still make their ideas understandable and memorable.  That is what you have got to do.  Every time now I hope the power note never goes out for you especially for 24 hours. But if it does I want you to be prepared. Because if you do speak under adverse situations like that. Your audience is even more likely to remember.  They’re more likely to be impressed so.  Do not blow the opportunity. Remember anytime you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation you’re never prepared for that PowerPoint. Unless you are ready to give it without the PowerPoint.

Okay so why do I give that story? I do want to stress to people that every opportunity they have to present maybe the only time to speak in front of that audience.  Don not blow it just because technically is not something right. Just right a bulb burns out. Computers go on the fritz.  Someone can be clumsy knock something over break it. Or the power can go out for the whole city. It is beyond your control. You still have the ability to speak. Unless someone knocks you out. I hope that does not happen or chandelier falls on your head. You can still speak without electricity, without power but without computers. So make the most of it.   That is the point of that story. It does really drive home the message.  You are not prepared unless you’re prepared to do it without the slides. Too many people how that is their notes. I am a big fan of notes as you know but the notes do not require electricity. You can have those in your pocket or right next to you at any time.

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