When the worst happens…big style mess ups when presenting!

Oh dear…a teleprompter fails, nerves kick in, another presentation and presenter bites the dust.   Only this wasn’t in front of a small supportive group of people.  This was in front of cameras, clients, employees and investors.  Huge exposure.  And the subsequent social media publicity takes it to a whole other level.  Ouch.

imagesIf you watch the clip, you have got to feel for Michael Bay when it all starts to crumble. Who hasn’t worried that they will forget their words.  Who hasn’t dreaded messing up the first few lines.  Who hasn’t ever wanted the earth to open up in front of them and swallow them up.  At the same time it is tempting to ask about how someone so senior and in front of such a big audience was left high and dry.  Why he could feel the only option was to walk out.

After watching the clip here are some initial thoughts

1. Never really on a teleprompter.  Or PowerPoint. Or Prezzi. or indeed on any technology. Murphy’s Law states that what can go wrong will and if you put all your faith in it and then it lets you down you are in BIG TROUBLE!

2. Have a Plan B. Think the unthinkable and plan for it anyway.  In the clip you can see that the facilitator and Michael aim for a question and answer session but in the absence of planning this it don’t quite work. (good idea though)

3. Know your message independently of any visuals.  Be clear about the purpose of your key message.  Be clear what it is you want your audience to go away with.  So that if there is a failure of technology, or time, or circumstance, you can fall back on this.

And here are some tips for Michael (should he ever get to read it!)

1. Walk on with purpose. Stand still. Create a focal point for people. Connect non verbally.  And then start. (see how he is still walking on as he starts, how the energy of entrance hasn’t been allowed to channel itself into energy and passion for his topic.)

2. Pause before starting.  In this case, it would have given him, and the technicians, a chance to work out the problem without him having to say , ‘ It’s broken.  I’ll have to wing it’.  It means he can get his act together and deal with whatever is then thrown at him.

3. Make the verbal connection with the audience a genuine one that gets them engaged and involved and on your side.  Michael’s , ‘how are we doing?’ is a filler-in. There is no time given to connection with his audience so when it goes pear shape I am guessing there is little wriggle room ( although lots of squirming).  Ask them a question they can put their hand up to. Make a statement that goes right to the heart of his message.  Tell a story.

4. Rehearse.  I have no doubt he did (please tell me he did!) but it may be he rehearsed the technology.  Not the flow and meaning and energy of the speaking itself.  Rehearse as if you are talking to your audience, one to one (you know what I mean).  Not by rote.  Not by prompt by prompt by prompt.

And don’t despair.  It is a pretty big, high exposure mess up.  But not the end of the world.  No one died.  He will live to live another day. And if he learns from this, then I look forward to seeing other, powerful and successful presentations.


If you think I can help you with your presentations or if you have had a similar experience and would like to discuss, then call Catherine on 07946 604859 or email on catherine @catherinesandland.com.


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