In this high tech world of PowerPoint slides, video and laser gizmos, many executives feel like their problems are new and unique. Maybe, but maybe not.
Here is advice on a seemingly unrelated matter from an 1880 book on etiquette entitled “Don’t: A Manual of Mistakes and Improprieties more or less prevalent in Conduct and Speech:”
“Don’t drop your knife or fork; but, if you do, don’t be disconcerted. Quietly ask the servant for another, and give the incident no further heed. Don’t be disquieted at accidents or blunders of any kind, but let all mishaps pass off without comment and with philosophical indifference.”
As it turns out, this is precisely the advice I give to clients when they encounter troubles during a PowerPoint Presentation. We have all seen presenters fall apart when their projector doesn’t work properly or if a slide isn’t displayed correctly. I’ve seen presenters sweat bullets when they realized their remote slide changer wouldn’t work.
These speakers went to pieces. And that’s what everyone remembered about their presentation.
So what should the speakers have done? They should have gone back to 1880 and simply not let their technical problems bother them at all. They should have projected grace and class. Of course, the best way to do this is to practice your speech repeatedly and to have a paper outline of notes so that you can give a speech without any technical gizmos, when need be.
Sometimes the answers to our problems aren’t in the latest hi-tech help desk on the Internet; instead, consult the dustiest texts you can find on your book shelf.
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