Guide on the Side - Expect the UnexpectedBy Marie Wallace, Published on October 1, 1998
Marie Wallace has enjoyed a fulfilling career as a librarian, beginning in 1951 in academia with the University of California and transitioning in 1971 into the private law library world until her 1995 retirement from O'Melveny & Myers. She is the 1997 recipient of the American Association of Law Libraries' highest honor, the Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award. Throughout her professional life, Marie has been a guiding force in the Southern California Association of Law Libraries, Practising Law Institute's programs for law librarians and Teaching Legal Research in Private Law Libraries (TRIPLL).
Today, Marie has commenced on a new path she terms "Life in Progress," which enables her to pursue a diversity of interests as a master swimmer, law librarian, trainer, storyboarder and designer of wearable art. She continues to be a dynamic speaker and prolific writer on such topics as private law library management, presentations and training. She is a member of Toastmasters Internationaland is active with the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) and in continuing education for private law librarians. She devotes her "free" time to various non-profit and civic activities. Always open to new ideas, Marie can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
|In life as well as in presentations, surprises happen.
Whether they are funny (ha-ha) or funny (oh-oh) is your call. You never know
for sure what will happen no matter how carefully you plan. Events that seem like a fiasco
as they occur and will later become a source of amusement. Over the years I have
experienced a variety of "fiasco-to-fun" incidents on the way to the forum.
Perhaps these sound familiar:
Bad things happen to the best presenters and program planners no matter what precautions they take. How you react is what people will remember. Smile even though you feel like strangling someone. Keep your cool and sense of humor. Make the best of the situation. Acknowledge that some things are totally out of your control--like building evacuations due to fire drills and bomb threats.
Speaker Related Situations and Possible Solutions
The speaker does not show or is late.
You are a speaker and come down with laryngitis.
|The panelist before you uses up most of your time.
The panelist before you begins talking about your topic.
At the last minute you are told that you will have 10 minutes to speak instead of 45 minutes you were told initially or vice versa.
You expect an audience of about 15 and bring 20 handouts. You arrive to find 50 people in the audience.
A heckler in the audience starts making nasty remarks and asking antagonistic questions.
A group of people in the audience start a noisy conversation while you are speaking.
Your introducer completely distorts what you are going to talk about.
You loose your train of thought in mid-sentence.
You allow 15 minutes at the end for questions and answers but there are no questions.
Your throat dries out and you start coughing.
A novice speaker on your program begins but is terrified and cannot continue the presentation.
As the speaker you can see the buffet set up in the back up the room. Midway in your speech you see a homeless person loading the food in a big sack.
You arrive early, set up your equipment, create a visual on the grease board, and put out the handouts. You go to the rest room and when you return everything is gone.
Someone in the audience or panel faints or has some other medical emergency.
The power suddenly goes off in the middle of your presentation throwing the room into dimness and making the equipment you are using for your slides in operable.
You are doing a full day seminar. Your notes and handouts are in the luggage you checked at the airport. When you arrive, it appears your luggage went to another city.
The room is too large and the audience sits in the back rows.
Special Problems of Speaking Outside
Try to avoid presentations in the great outdoors or keep them short. Even with a microphone the sound drifts away and nature is anything but quiet. There may be wind, rain, thunder, lightning, flies, bees, mosquitoes, dogs chasing each other, and swooping birds. It is likely to be too hot or cold. Your notes may fly into the barbecue pit.
Facilities Related Situations
Get noise issues in the contract when dealing with restaurants, hotels and conference centers. If there is unacceptable noise, there will be a penalty. Find out what is scheduled before and after in your room and the rooms adjacent. Know how and who to contact when there is a problem. Bring the contract to the program as some hotels have rapid turnover and will disclaim all knowledge of previous arrangements. Get to the room at least an hour earlier to discover issues that require attention.
Many problems related to facilities can be handled by a designated trouble shooter. Always have at least one trouble shooter to handle problems such as:
The cardinal rules on facilities (whether internal or external to your organization) are:
When the unexpected happens even after your "flight check," remember if it is a choice between laughing and crying, the audience will be more comfortable with laughter--and so will you in retrospect.