The Show Must Go On

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The show must go on. That's something I stress to all of my clients when they come to me for public speaking, presentation skills training. Way back in 2003, 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. And I was telling them what I'm telling you. Now, look, you've got to have the show go on no matter what.

What I mean by that is if you're giving a PowerPoint presentation, and 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's four o'clock in the afternoon, and all of a sudden the power goes out. And everyone has to catch a plane at five they'll be leaving the conference and you'll never see them again. You don't want to have to say, Well, I guess I can't see anything but no, you Present your ideas the best you can. So that's what I told him at 9am in the morning, we do a practice session get everyone on camera, they practice their PowerPoint presentations at 10 1112.

We do this again and again and again. Now we're ready for the final PowerPoint presentation of the day. All of a sudden, it's about four o'clock. The power goes out. Now it's August 13 2003. The power goes out for 24 hours in Manhattan now we didn't know that yet.

But at this point, four o'clock 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, find a flashlight. I turn the flashlight on and I help people up out of their chairs safely. We go to the refrigerator Get a few drinks.

Get out of the office. Fortunately, we're only on the second floor. So we kind of feel our way down the steps. out onto the street. There's still plenty of sunlight. We all walk half a block to Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan.

It's a beautiful sunny day, we find six chairs, we form a little circle. And guess what we did sit around and just talk about Oh, New York City, what shows to go to tonight, what restaurants to go to know. Each person stood up and gave his or her final PowerPoint presentation of the day. Now, there was nothing projected up on the screen. There were no images that because they practiced all day they were able to just stand up and present their ideas and still make their ideas come alive still make their ideas understandable and memorable. That's what you've 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 don't blow the opportunity. Remember, anytime you're giving a PowerPoint presentation, you're never prepared for that PowerPoint unless you're 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 may be the only time to speak in front of that audience. Don't blow it just because technically isn't something right, just right. A bulb burns out computers, go on the fritz.

Someone could be clumsy, knock something over break it or the power can go out to the whole city and It's beyond your control, you still have the ability to speak. Unless someone knocks you out hope that doesn't 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's the point of that story and it does really drive home the message. You're not prepared unless you're prepared to do it without the slides too many people have that as their notes.

I am a big fan of notes as you know. But the notes don't require electricity. You can have those in your pocket or right next to you at any time.

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