I’ve just had a couple of days with no connection to e-mails or the shared drive here at work – a long, not-very-interesting story that is all sorted out now. With an event to organise and some work that really needed doing, I had two choices: I could get really stressed and shout at helpdesk people, or I could be resourceful and wing it while waiting for the problem to be fixed. This meant asking favours of lots of people and using the old-fashioned telephone and talking to people In Real Life a lot more than usual. It all worked out in the end.
It reminded of a time, in a job interview a few years ago, where I had to open with a ten-minute presentation on the benefits of e-learning. I wanted to show off my technology skills, so did some really flash Presi slides with just images and made some punchy dynamic notes. A still, small voice in my head said: Gill, I would come up with an offline alternative just in case something goes awry. I listened to that still, small voice and printed four hard copies of the presentation, one for each member of the panel and one for me complete with my notes. I also put the presentation on a flash drive. BUT the catch was, in my nervousness, I took an identical (but the wrong) flash drive to the interview. When I plugged it in, the only file on there was the movie, Pulp Fiction.
The interview panel’s stony faces gave nothing away, so deciding not to re-do my whole presentation around the connection between Pulp Fiction and e-learning, I quietly clicked out of the file, handed out the hard copy of the presentation and spoke to those notes. Luckily I had also rehearsed what I was going to say at least twice, so was able to sound natural and at ease with my subject, even though the adrenaline was pumping furiously! Needless to say, I wasn’t the successful candidate, but I learned a lot from the experience.
For those of you going through interviews, testing and assessment centres where you may need to do presentations, always plan for the worst when it comes to the tools you may use. Always over-prepare well ahead of time. Don’t think “Meh. I’ll do it tomorrow”, as tomorrow may be the day that you accidentally drop your i-Pad in the bath and you had everything saved on your hard drive.
This blog by Millie Blackwell of Showcase Workshop has some useful tips for what to do when your technology fails in a marketing presentation or meeting. And as you know, interview presentations are, in essence, a marketing exercise. A wise seer in the workplace once told me “How you react to crises in front of others says a lot about your character”. If the technology doesn’t work, whatever you do, stay calm and focus on your audience and getting your message across. Make a cool, collected judgement call early to do it old-school and don’t waste precious time making your powerpoint do its thing. Second saying from the wise seer – “A good craftsperson never blames their tools”.