Last night I stepped into the deep and slippery doodoo. The Ignite Bend event is on February 23 and I sent in an application to do a five-minute presentation with twenty, fifteen second slides on The Earth Ark Project. That show in the Tower theater will be to an enthusiastic audience of about a thousand Bendites. Last night’s event, as it turned out, was to a much smaller audience of about fifty people. What I had expected was an audience of maybe seven where the presenters would talk briefly about their hoped-for upcoming presentation. I was totally wrong about the situation, and thus was totally unprepared for what happened. I can talk spontaneously and at great length about The Earth Ark Project, but that was not to be.
Here I am before the comedy of errors begins. What I had been told, but which didn’t sink in to my overly padded head, was that this was to be a stand-up comedy presentation by people who had applied for Ignite Bend presentations. This wasn’t going to be a serious presentation other than announcing my name and the title of my proposed Ignite Bend presentation. Then the computer would throw up onto a screen behind me some random image and I was supposed to make funny comments.
The computer was set for 15 seconds and away it went clicking forward with mechanical mercilessness and I babbled incoherently trying to look at the audience and the screen at the same time. About the time this machine was done with me I realized there was a computer in front of me, so I could have looked with greater clarity at it and the audience simultaneously. Someone kept yelling for their friend Mike, but I didn’t see anyone respond. Duh?! They were yelling at me, the old fool, who let the mike get more than six inches from his face. That was sort of disconcerting because I could hear the loud speakers quite well.
I petitioned the audience for help and the girl seated behind me with her hands to her face in the top photo came up and together we tried vainly to figure out what was funny about these pictures – not much. The best that could be said about my performance was that it ended and I walked away. I was reminded of a saying in the Air Force, “Any landing you walk away from is a good landing.” When entering this event I was thinking about Nassim Taleb’s recommendation in The Black Swan to take big risks where there is some chance of a payoff and little chance of injury. This was one of those situations and there has been a payoff for me. It’s all obvious, but as I said above, the obvious is slow to sink into my well padded brain.
Among the things I learned: Know what you’re getting into and do some real physical stand-up preparation for the event. Even if the preparation is mostly wrong, it does help get the ideas flowing and a few proper habits set in place. Then during the event there is less that needs to occupy one’s attention, and the attention available can be directed to adapting to the ongoing situation. That preparation allows you to get back on message instantly after a distraction, and there will be plenty of distractions.
Be Prepared !!! That’s the Boy Scout’s marching song. Be prepared. Be prepared.