I guess I should consider myself lucky that I lasted all these years without it ever happening to me. But yesterday it did. The moment I have dreaded for years ... the moment that all public speakers dread.
I was speaking at the MDPA marketing conference just outside Washington, DC ... talking about the evolution of social media especially as it relates to wellness. The MC of the conference makes a very articulate introduction for me and I confidently walk up onto stage. I say "Good Morning" with all the gusto I've got and hit the button to advance the next slide ...
I click again, I point it at the screen, I click again ... Nothing happens. Thinking that maybe something will save me I click again ... Nothing happens.
I decide to give an intro to the slides while the IT folks figure out what's going on -- to buy myself some time ... Nothing happens.
By the look on the IT guy's face, I quickly realize that I am hanging out there on my own. Forty-five minutes of content and I've got no slides. So I just start talking ... and something really cool happens.
I connect with the audience!
I pretty succinctly convey the message I want to make without a single slide. I proceed to tell a story of what I want people to hear from me. I put all my attention into the audience, rather than on the slides. And although I may not have hit every bullet point from every slide, I certainly did deliver the message. And because everyone felt so bad for me (and afraid for when it's their turn), they actually paid attention. Nothing like sympathy to draw in a crowd!!
What a concept. A story that people paid attention to ... at a marketing conference! I got pushed out of "slide land" and was forced just to talk and to tell a story. And by the sound of all the Q&A that happened afterwards, I'd say it went really well. Without a single slide.
Five lessons learned from this "experience":
- Be prepared for the worst case scenario ... always
- Tell a story ... in the moment
- Pay attention to your audience ... and they will pay attention to you
- Give 'em just enough content to spark engagement ... and they will ask questions
- Smile the whole time :) ... and they will smile back!!
Now that was an experience!! Ever happen to you? Jim.
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect