When the Wheels Come Off !!


“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”

— Tommy Lasorda

There are two types of speakers: those that have had disastrous gigs and those that will.  Like earthquakes, disastrous gigs come unannounced, wreak havoc, then leave you to pick up the pieces and carry on.  You can’t plan for them (power outage), or take remedial action to avoid them (plane diverted); it could be a shared experience (Fire Drill), or only known by you (they DON’T speak English?!)  It is The Twilight Zone episode that’s about your speaking gig today.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Try these four sure-fire remedies:

Practice Improv Immediately and Often to Be Ready: You’re in a dynamic environment fraught with gak.  Be ready for it and be able to respond to it.

Play up the Shared Experience: It affected everybody, so make the best of it: tell jokes about it. Use Improv.

It’s You They Came To See: Even though they might not be able to see or hear you, it’s your presentation they came for.  Show it to them. Be you. Be Memorable.

Live the Moment: It isn’t every day you perform under these circumstances; live it, learn from it, and vow never to live itagain.

You will never forget the day(s) When the Wheels Came Off.  They are painful learning days.  But whatever that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

A ride to the airport never felt so good.


You looking at me?


When you speak to an audience, where and who do you look at? That is a question that is asked of many speaking coaches. It is important for any speaker to look and establish eye contact with your audience. If you are speaking to a small group whether in a classroom or in a small conference room, it is very easy to establish eye contact in those type of situations. It is simply looking at few individuals and establishing eye contact for 2 or 3 seconds to help form a bond. The difficulty comes when you are in a large room in front of 300-500 people. Where do you look? My experience has been to divide your audience into 5 sections. Two sections on the left and 2 sections on the right side of the room with one section in the middle. Find a friendly face to look at in each of these 5 sections. As you give your speech seek out these faces and establish eye contact and form a bond. Obviously in a large room each of your audience members will assume you are looking at them. However a bit of advice, don’t treat the room as a ping-pong table. Try not to establish a pattern of moving you back and forth like a ping-pong game.

Try to seek those faces and enjoy yourself!

Be memorable!


I was riding in a Hotel Shuttle with some of my client’s employees. As we talked, one of them enthusiastically broadcast that she had taken and thoroughly enjoyed one of our IT training classes. I asked her who the instructor was; she replied with the name of our most successful and popular instructor. I then asked,” What do you remember most about that class?” She replied, “The magic tricks”. I was not surprised with the answer.
Despite what the woman’s response may invoke, this instructor was always in demand by our clients, all over the country, was always asked for when his expertise was needed. He was always booked. He wasn’t just magic tricks: he was an excellent instructor. But he had that extra “thing” – the magic – that enhanced the lesson and his reputation. He was memorable.
Some people are memorable because of who they are: iconic people in politics, business, sports and media. Others are memorable because they are experts in their fields: Nobel Prize winners and Hedge Fund Managers.
But for the rest us, we need to create our memorable. How do we do that? It varies with the individual. For some, it’s donning a costume, such as an Air Force Fighter flight suit, a clown costume, or being dressed to portray Abraham Lincoln. For others, it’s kinetics events on stage: gymnastics, juggling chain saws and performing magic tricks. Olympians often wear their medals when speaking. A few speakers give away prizes and gifts. Every memorable speaker has a memorable, that thing you remember about them.
Everyone has their own memorable and it’s uniquely yours. Find it. Embrace it. Perfect it. And you will be memorable.


Great story!


Any story told to an audience involves a three way relationship between the speaker, the audience and the story. Think of this as a triangle with each corner representing an element of this relationship. None of the corners are independent because each part is connected.
When you tell a story to an audience, you are making a connection to your audience. The audience in turn is making a connection back to you, the speaker, because of the story. It is very important to ask yourself if your story is truly making that connection. Some stories are better for one audience than for another. You as a speaker have choices in what story you tell and in how you tell this story. Many people think that telling a story is a fixed process. However because you have a choice in telling the story, the process is fluid. You must spend time in the practice of telling your story. You have to look at it from all angles. You must realize that telling a story must never be an accident but must always be something that is planned exactly in order to gain the power of storytelling.



I believe one of the most important words a speaker should use is the word why. Whether you are looking at content, room set-up or presentation materials, asking yourself the “why” is an important part of anything you do. Forcing yourself to ask why, makes you to start review what you are doing differently.
Why this content? Why this content now? Why this content now with this audience? All of us get locked into a set pattern or behavior and we forget that there are other ways to look at things.
Sometimes by looking at your actions differently forces you to make changes that can make your presentations more powerful. You may use a particular set of materials because you are comfortable. However your materials maybe slowly going out of date. Looking at what you hand out from various angles will force you to challenge the effectiveness of what you hand out.
Again, remember asking the “why” on what you do or say, will always challenge you for the better!

Get To Know Your Presentation Remote!!


Recently, while attending a presentation, I heard a fellow speaker say, “Hey…. how do I use this thing?” Do you know what thing they were talking about?  Well, have you ever seen the little device in the hand of a presenter, usually black or silver.  That little device is called a presentation remote, or ‘clicker’, or, if you really want to get picky, a ‘pickle’, yes a pickle.  Why it’s called a pickle I do not know!

In audiovisual-speak, a “pickle” is a handheld remote that allows you, the presenter, ‘freedom of movement’ to manually advance your slides at your own pace without being tied to your laptop’s keyboard while in front of an audience or onstage.  More importantly, using a remote allows you to focus your attention on your presentation and maintain good eye contact with your audience and not worry about where the slide advance keys are on your laptop.

This handy little device works with the more popular software programs like Microsoft PowerPoint™, Apple Keynote™ and online programs like Prezzi and Haikudeck, etc.

SMK_remote_clicker_image 1

There are many brands to choose from out there.  My favorite is the SMK Remote Navigator.  This one is simple, small, reliable, and extremely easy to use without looking.  In addition, it’s well back-weighted so it stays towards the front your palm without much worry that it will fall out of the back of your palm.   Ooooops!

So, to circle back around to the original question when I heard the woman say, “Hey…. how do I use this thing?” immediately, I cringed and thought, “What? She didn’t just say that in front of the audience? What the speaker meant is – How do I use this clicker remote to control my PowerPoint presentation on a computer. She was unfamiliar with the device.

It’s an absolute must that you know about all your presentation technology tools you use in your presentation on stage or in front of an audience.  Never say something like that speaker said!

Whether you’re presenting to one person in a business setting or delivering your first keynote to 5,000 people, you should be using a handheld remote, or a pickle. Yes, even the best speakers use them too

Takeaway point:

As a speaker, you must know about your presentation technology. When you do, you’ll look like you’ve got your act together and know your material well.