…as Hannibal (A-Team Hannibal, not Lecter) would say.
See, I’m kind of a last-minute kind of guy. Not the absolutely last minute, but I tend to work stuff out in my head for a while before I actually start doing anything concrete, and that can be a little disconcerting. Amanda has been bugging me for the past month about my presentation, asking me if I needed help with the demos or wanted her to review the slides. I’m sure that her help would have been great, given the number of presentations she’s done, but I wasn’t able to take advantage of it too much because most of the stuff was in my mind for most of the time. It’s only been in the past week or two that things have really solidified. A little nerve wracking for her, but we’ll see whether it pays off today…
The turning point with the presentation, as always, was in the final dress rehearsal. Yesterday I had a bit of onsite speaker training with Richard Klees, who does a lot of this stuff for Microsoft conferences. The focus was on presentaiton style, not substance, and we covered a few things that were really killing my flow. The biggest thing I needed to work on was something I remember well from my acting days in high school: no matter what happens, no matter how badly you’re messing up, no matter how many lines you just missed, don’t break character. The truth is that if you just keep going like everything is normal, most people will never notice. And even if it’s so bad that people do notice, if you carry on and get back into the groove, most people will forgive and forget. The audience, by and large, wants you to succeed. As long as you’re not boring them, they’re on your side.
We’ll put that to the test this morning.
This does remind me of a funny story. My senior year of high school, I was in a production of “the Scottish play” being done by a local theater troupe (the Young People’s Performing Company, or YPPC). I was playing MacDuff, and early on in the play, I was in a scene where I was supposed to chat for a little while with MacBeth and then a servant comes on stage and announces the king is coming. After the servant’s speech, MacBeth turns, looks off stage, and says something to the effect of “Why, yes, here is your master now,” as the king comes on stage.
Well, during the second or third performance, everything is going great until the point at which MacBeth turns, looks off stage and says “Why, yes, here is your master now.” Instead of the king standing there, ready to enter, there was just some random cast member who gets a sudden deer-in-the-headlights look and then scurries off as he realizes that the king is supposed to be standing there and isn’t. MacBeth, myself and the servant stand there for an awkward moment until, finally, MacBeth says to the servant, “Hmmmm. Perhaps not. Perhaps you should go get thy master,” to which the servant replies, “Good idea.” Exeunt servant to go find the king. After a moment, the errant king shows up on stage, starts his speech, and on with the play.
Hopefully, nothing like that is going to happen today, but if I could make it through that, I’m sure I can make it through any flubs I might make in my presentation today…