back to article Pull the plug! PowerPoint may kill my conference audience

The man on stage is baffled. It was his big moment, a chance to show off his company’s proficiency and expertise, but now he’s being made to look useless. Two huge screens on either side of the stage are supposed to be displaying his presentation. They remain resolutely blank. A 200-strong audience of paying conference …

  1. IsJustabloke
    Thumb Up

    hmmm....

    I can make a hat.... or a broach.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: hmmm.... or a broach.

      a cask of real ale?

      Why do you want to make a hat (or maybe a brooch, perhaps you are from NI or parts of Scotland)

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: hmmm.... or a broach.

        Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue.

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: hmmm.... or a broach.

        Or perhaps he needs to make a hexagonal hole in a bar of steel ...

        Real engineers knonwhat a broach is.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan
          Boffin

          Re: hmmm.... or a broach.

          > Real engineers knonwhat a broach is.

          People who speak English also do - broaching is what you are doinging when you make a breech..

          (Also a nautical term but I can't remember the specifics of that one).

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: hmmm.... or a broach.

            And it is what whales do to get rid of parasites.

            Do people who speak English know how to parse for nouns and verbs?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: hmmm.... or a broach.

              "Do people who speak English know how to parse for nouns and verbs?"

              No, we can only manage three nouns at a time.

  2. TheProf Silver badge
    Happy

    A quick thought

    Is it possible to convert a Powerpoint presentation into a media (movie) file? If so, a cheap media player might be a useful addition to your bulging case.

    (Must watch Apollo 13 again. Also Airplane.)

    1. DropBear

      Re: A quick thought

      ...because sets of ordinary pictures (sometimes called "slides") that any computing device should be able to display are just not cutting it any more.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: A quick thought

      You'd never know where you are, you'd be talking too fast or too slow while the video marches on relentlessly. It'd be better just to not give your presentation. *

      * It's always better just to not give the presentation, but that's beside the point.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: A quick thought

        Convert each slide to a JPG image. Most media players can handle photo slideshows.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: A quick thought

      If I absolutely can't talk myself out of having to give a "presentation"... my last line of defense (for my dignity, that is) is a low-capacity USB (2.0) stick with the thing as a PDF on it. Using full screen mode it doesn't even look that much different from a proper PP.

    4. Mage Silver badge

      Re: A quick thought

      Trivial.

      Also the pause / play button is then your friend.

      Though not all projectors/TVs support all resolutions or codecs.

      Some printers will even print a presentation converted jpeg via the panel USB host socket (Which someone I know thought was for PC and he actually managed to get an adaptor, I told him the PC connects at the back)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: A quick thought

        Play... wait for it... wait for it... it's changed! Pause... and talk. Play... wait for it... wait for it... it's changed! Pause... and talk. Play... wait for it... wait for it... it's changed! Pause... and talk.

  3. AndrueC Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Ain't technology marvellous. I upgraded my phone this week. Went from a Samsung S3 Neo to a Samsung S7 Edge. It's not been entirely smooth sailing:

    * I had to wait over an hour to activate the new SIM because Vodafone's systems were down on Tuesday afternoon supposedly for maintenance.

    * My SureSignal 3 still steadfastly refuses to allow my S7 Edge to connect to it.

    * My phone is incapable of notifying me of anything other than SMS and calls. Email arriving? Apparently that's no longer worthy of note. In fact Google Mail won't even let me refresh it. Good job I never use gmail for anything important.

    * Google Calendar can't sync. It will be back shortly(*).

    Apparently the notification issue is something to do with the power saving features of Android 6.0.1. Oh I forgot another issue:

    * My phone uses more battery during the day than my old one did.

    (*)Don't call me Shortly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      SureSignal

      Are you using the same number and the same SIM? I recently moved to a new phone and needed a new SIM. SureSignal didn't work with the new phone.

      A quick google showed I needed to remove the number from the SureSignal and then add it back to allow for the SIM change. However, I've only got one phone registered and you can't remove the "admin" number without adding a second (vodafone) number, making it the admin number and then putting it all back as it was once you've removed and added the number you actually use.

      Simple fix* for me was to just unregister the SureSignal and then re-register it.

      * Of course, the "simple fix" would be for Vodafone to support SIM replacement :-(

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: SureSignal

        Are you using the same number and the same SIM? I recently moved to a new phone and needed a new SIM. SureSignal didn't work with the new phone.

        Yah, that's what I've now been advised but apparently it's best to leave a 24 hour gap between de-registering and re-registering.

        Ironically the main reason I upgraded was to get wifi calling as an alternative to the SS because my previous phone couldn't always be bothered to switch to the SS. What I've now found is that although I have wifi calling enabled the S7 Edge considers 1 signal bar to be perfectly adequate. So either wifi calling isn't working or else it only works in total no signal areas :(

        I've also found that it might be battery optimisation causing the syncing and notification issues. So I've removed a few of the affected apps from battery optimisation so maybe that will fix them. Of course that will probably increase battery drain a bit more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: SureSignal

          Yes, I also moved to get WiFi Calling as the SureSignal had the problem you reported - i.e. phone would use the one bar signal from the base station and only switch to the five bar from the SureSignal once the call dropped! I was told this was "by design" as base stations "were better" :-(

          Not sure which phone you've got, but with the iPhone you can put it in to flight mode and then re-enable the WiFi. WiFi calling still works like this. I've not noticed call problems here with WiFi calling and one bar of cell signal.

          Which is when the next problem shows - Vodafone have not yet added support for SMS over WiFi calling, so you'll need to exit flight mode if you want texts :-( EE do support SMS over WiFi calling and vodafone are "looking at it" (and have been for a year or so)...

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: SureSignal

            And for anyone else not getting notifications on their shiny new Android phone I can confirm the fix:

            You need to exclude the app(s) from battery optimisation.

            This concludes this public service announcement. Be careful out there.

        2. Spamfast
          Pirate

          Re: SureSignal

          See my previous comment.

          I know ... we don't even have to go to the bother of selling him an extra gadget. Why not mooch off his or his coffee shop's WiFi signal instead of providing a decent signal and we can still charge him for the call.

          Prima!

      2. Spamfast
        Pirate

        Re: SureSignal

        Do Vodafone still make you pay for a SureSignal? Even if not it's a breathtaking scam.

        I know ... why don't we not bother providing coverage but instead make the customer pay for the back-haul and then charge him for the calls we're routing over the Internet connection he's already paying for?

        Snow to Eskimos.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: SureSignal

          Do Vodafone still make you pay for a SureSignal?

          Yes. £100 officially I think but I got them to knock £50 off because I was a new customer. It also consumes 10w in use so probably about £1 a month added to your leccy bill. Data transferred over it comes out of your allowance as well, although of course most phones will be on wifi when in range so probably less of an issue.

          I've ditched mine as of this weekend. SS doesn't support 4G and after all the faffing around and talking with support it turns out that's why my phone has been ignoring it. Not that their support knew. Me and another guy on their forums guessed at that explanation at the same time Sunday morning. If I disabled 4G it connected immediately. Luckily the recent mast upgrades do seem to mean that I'm now in an adequate signal area anyway. And I also now have wifi calling to fall back on.

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      My phone uses more battery during the day than my old one did.

      Have you tried turning it off and on again? I have found that some apps don't seem to sleep or exit cleanly and can sit there just drinking juice without performing any useful function. Rebooting clears everything out, until the next time you need to use the app...

      M.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh Dear

      Ain't technology marvellous. I upgraded my phone this week. Went from a iPhone 5c to a iPhone SE It's been entirely smooth sailing:

      I had to wait for a minute while the Apple Lady swapped my SIM, which activated immediately on GiffGaff.

      * Good job I never use gmail for anything important.

      Wise Move!!

      * Google Calendar can't sync. It will be back shortly(*).

      No Probs with syncing with all my fruity stuff.

      * My phone uses more battery during the day than my old one did.

      Mine doesn't

      (*)Don't call me Shortly.

      Ok

      Don't take it personally, but you get what you pay for I'm afraid

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Oh Dear

        Shrug.

        My upgrade from an older S4 to 7 went very smooth. Connect the two devices with USB cable, wait a little bit and Smasung SmartSwitch copied everything (except bits I de-selected) from the old device to the new one.

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Oh Dear

        * My phone uses more battery during the day than my old one did.

        Actually this is no longer true. The battery is holding the second charge very well. Even though I've now white-listed several apps as 'do not sleep' it's managing 10% a day discharge. My Neo had an extended 4600maH battery and discharged at around 12% per day so the S7 Edge is a lot better in that respect.

        I got the new phone on Tuesday and I've only had to charge it twice. It was last charged Saturday night and is on 84% at the moment. Can't complain about that :)

        To be fair (sorta) Android Marshmallow users will only experience sync issues if they enable power saving. But it does seem pretty silly that Calendar, Contacts sync and GMail are not white listed by default :-/

  4. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Ho Hum

    It is probably rule number one. Never stand in front of the audience with a computer presentation unless you've tried it out there first.

    And rule number 2 is; always have another portable version on memory stick/CD or ideally both. And if you can save it in more than one format -DO.

    It always amazes me how people will spend a whole day setting up a training package, but not take 5 minutes to make sure the damn thing will work at the venue.

    (Hint. Unless you've been there before the conference started that morning, it's when the punters are out slurping the coffee and custard creams that you should be getting set up. Not while they are coming back in brushing off the crumbs and trying to text at the same time.)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ho Hum

      "Never stand in front of the audience with a computer presentation unless you've tried it out there first."

      Trying out there it'll work fine. It's then that matters.

    2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Ho Hum

      > ...unless you've tried it out there first.

      Been there, but still ... Made sure everything worked the evening before. My talk followed another guy who used the beamer. Plugged my computer in, screen was garbled. Neither reboot, restart of the beamer, nor re-plugging worked. Evil beamer ---->

      It came to my rescue that I brought my talk (outline) on paper, as I always do. Paper. Always. Works.

      1. Arctic fox
        Thumb Up

        @GrumpenKraut "It came to my rescue that I brought my talk (outline) on paper, as I always do.....

        ..............Paper. Always. Works."

        I hear you brother. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, read the book. Bringing some chalk with you in case they have something so impossibly old fashioned as a blackboard is not to be despised either.*

        *Not so unlikely as you might think in the university sector where I work.

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: @GrumpenKraut "It came to my rescue that ... "

          > Bringing some chalk with you...

          I always do this, slightly better quality then the cheap standard (dusty fuckers[TM]) you would find, if any.

          Also whiteboard pens, often enough just to find that some MBA-ish person has used up ALL paper, drawing boxes, bubbles, and arrows. ------------>

      2. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Ho Hum

        Paper! That reminds me of the internal weekly presentations where I once worked in IT: As everybody knew what a PP looked like we went for Dogma-presentations: hand drawn on flipchart paper, max 4 colours, stuck to whiteboard with magnets. I think duration was max 10 minutes.

        Less time for polishing presentation, less PP-induced sleep in work time

      3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Paper. Always. Works.

        For those that think visuals are important, give them Annabelle the Sheep to look at.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Ho Hum

        "It came to my rescue that I brought my talk (outline) on paper, as I always do. Paper. Always. Works."

        It used to be that our staff would take along a copy of the presentation on OHP "just in case".

        Eventually we noticed that the (inkjet) printer used to generate OHP transparencies hadn't been used for several years. Apparently overhead projectors are now rarer than rockinghorse shit.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ho Hum

        The last time I misspelled a word on the paper, I tried to ctrl + z... and then remembered that this is a real piece of paper.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ho Hum

      It is probably rule number one. Never stand in front of the audience with a computer presentation unless you've tried it out there first.

      And rule number 2 is; always have another portable version on memory stick/CD or ideally both. And if you can save it in more than one format -DO.

      Rule 3 is a simple one: CONTENT matters, not the presentation thereof. If what you're talking about is interesting to your audience, you can even do entirely without projectors and visuals. As a matter of fact, I often deliberately do without, just to stop people from looking at pretty pictures (that's my excuse and I stick to it, nothing to do with accidentally taking along the wrong laptop, nooo).

      I always have a printed copy of a presentation with me, and quite often I don't even need any audio-visual, I only ever use that if there are graphs or images that help with what I'm presenting. I use slides mainly as a way to prompt me (they usually contain one word or at most one sentence).

      When I started working with audiences, I was told a very simple thing: YOU present, not your slides, graphics, gimmicks, no, you. So you better have a good story.

      1. Andrew Moore

        Re: Ho Hum

        Exactly- the number of presentations I've had to sit thru which was just basically a trained monkey reading text from a screen. At that point I'm pretty much thinking "you could have just emailed me the PPT and I could be sat back in the office going through it"

        1. BobChip
          Joke

          Re: Ho Hum

          AND saved the conference fee ..... Or did the venue have a spectacularly good bar?

      2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: Ho Hum

        > CONTENT matters, not the presentation thereof.

        This, on its own, is misleading. I recently attended a talk from a top notch scientist about a topic that is very interesting to me. The talk was delivered in a manner that was excruciatingly dull. Full hour talk and one wished it to be over after 5 minutes into it. The content may have been good, but the presentation was so massively shite that I don't even recall.

        I do agree about "you can even do entirely without projectors and visuals.". My favorite is chalk and blackboard, with occasional usage of colors if I feel generous. Apparently I am a dinosaur, because "Not multimedia, OMG!!!".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ho Hum

          I do agree about "you can even do entirely without projectors and visuals.". My favorite is chalk and blackboard, with occasional usage of colors if I feel generous. Apparently I am a dinosaur, because "Not multimedia, OMG!!!".

          I rather enjoy the shock on people's faces when they've just had a few lectures and I walk in and kill all the equipment and go without. Some even come out of hibernation at that point :).

          I may use a mike if the audience is large, but there too I prefer to be prepared and test beforehand - I used to be in sound :) ).

    4. Wensleydale Cheese

      Murphy strikes again

      "It is probably rule number one. Never stand in front of the audience with a computer presentation unless you've tried it out there first.

      And that still doesn't counter the racket of the air conditioning that wasn't running the evening before when you tested it all out.

      Or the pneumatic drills that start up right outside just when you are getting into the swing of your presentation.

    5. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Ho Hum

      It always amazes me how people will spend a whole day setting up a training package, but not take 5 minutes to make sure the damn thing will work at the venue.

      It's like making backups: sound advice is rarely followed.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Ho Hum

        It's like making backups: sound advice is rarely followed.

        But to be fair I earned a living over fifteen years off the back of people not having adequate backups. Every cloud etc.

    6. Timo

      Re: Ho Hum

      I proctored a science fair type event last year at the middle school, and one youngster was in a complete panic about getting his computer to recognize the screen and transmit said information to the projector. He had shown up a little early to test things out, and it just didn't work at all. He had no other fallback method to get the job done.

      Only after another fellow spent 30+ minutes trying to figure it out did the boy mention that he had just upgraded to windows 10 the night before, and in the process wiped out all of the specialized drivers for his gaming laptop. Most importantly was the video driver with the soft control to switch between laptop panel and projector modes was not loaded.

      An important lesson learned for him: If the sodding thing is working, DON'T F**K WITH IT RIGHT BEFORE YOU HAVE AN IMPORTANT MEETING, unless you have a few days to test it and work the kinks out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ho Hum

        "Don't f*ck before you have an important meeting" is good advice in general.

        :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ho Hum

          Can I add "don't allow Windows to f**k with your system for a week prior to the event" too? Which is easier said than done in corporate environments, and all but impossible in Windows 10. Imagine the scene: you get to the meeting, open up the lappy lid, and Windows decides that it really wants to configure something, and no you should not turn off your computer at that point. And then when it decides to reboot itself you have a ten minute wait on the other side of the boot while it configures itself again. For the love of $deity, Microsoft, some of us have work to do!

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Diffusing what we hoped might develop into fisticuffs"

    This might work but defusing might be a better approach.

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      No, I intended "diffusing"

      It's no odder than "defusing" a punch-up.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Presentation methods in decreasing order of reliability:

    Blackboard.

    Whiteboard. There's always one pen that's dried up and one which is solvent based and can't be wiped off without the special solvent that's not there.

    Overhead projector. Fine until the bulb goes.

    Slide projector. The remote fails or an automatic timer cuts in. Or else the bulb goes.

    Powerpoint. The embodiment of Murphy's law combining not one but two electronic devices, a remote and a projector bulb.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      > Presentation methods in decreasing order of reliability: ...

      You forgot the final item: depending on internet connectivity, extra points for additionally depending on wireless (a.k.a. auto-fail).

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "You forgot the final item: depending on internet connectivity"

        Or assuming that the presentation which is dependent on internet connectivity can be accessed from outside the organisational firewall.

        Extra points for bring at the conference and being laughed at for this, sending email at 5am (UK time) demanding it be fixed RIGHT NOW and then a very snarky email CC'ed to the director at 9am because it hasn't been done.

        Did I mention that the people responsible for maintaining that firewall don't start until 9:30am? or that _NOOONE_ is in before 9am. Or for added laughs, once the firewall was reconfigured, the venue has its own firewalling which prevented the connection anyway (and they wouldn't budge on it).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Blackboard.

      My favourite, especially if there are long pieces of chalk. I greatly delight in underlining everything, and the audience hates me in seconds as I spent my school years working out how to make chalk screech on a blackboard. It's an art, and I mastered it. Come to think of it, I'm thus probably responsible for the invention of the whiteboard :)

      Whiteboard. There's always one pen that's dried up and one which is solvent based and can't be wiped off without the special solvent that's not there.

      Oh yes, been there. I filled up a wall-to-wall one with a black marker that could NOT be erased, and we discovered this at the end of the tech discussion we were having (in other words, when it was completely full). It took a few weeks before they found a poor sod who could spend a day trying to get it clean again..

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Whiteboards are genius.

        Two markers. One wipes off instantly. The other is permanent and can only be removed with dangerous chemicals, sandblasting equipment, and/or replacement under warranty after an insurance claim.

        The markers look identical.

        What could possibly go wrong?

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          The markers look identical.

          The best advice I ever had for telling the two apart was given to me by a lecturer 30 years ago: "Get a student to hold out both hands, then make a mark on the back of each of them. Remember which pen you used for each. People invariably try to wipe the marks off once you tell them they can put their hands down, and then you'll know."

          Obviously he didn't explain all that before asking me to hold out my hands.

          1. herman Silver badge

            BLFH: Bastard lecturer from hell.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan
          Boffin

          >The markers look identical.

          But smell[1] *very* different.. (why yes - I do sniff my marker pens. It's for your safety and comfort of course..).

          [1] Consequence of extreme myopia[2] - my other senses seem to be a notch above normal.

          [2] -9.5 in one eye, -11.5 in t'other. Which qualifies me a 'partially-sighted' in one eye and nets me the grand sum of about £2.00 towards the glasses lens on that eye. My optician[3] gives me the discount but doesn't bother to apply to the DHS for it - it would cost far more to apply for than it's worth.

          [3] A proper one. Not the box-shifter high-street chains..

    3. smudge
      Windows

      Beyond PowerPoint....

      Webinar. Exponential growth in Murphy's Law effects due to large numbers of interacting electronic and software technologies.

    4. quxinot Silver badge
      Coat

      "Presentation methods in decreasing order of reliability: ........"

      What's interesting to me is that could be rewritten as:

      "Presentation methods in decreasing order of having any hope in hell of being interesting or useful"

      Or even as:

      "Presentation methods in increasing order of tending to be utter rubbish"

      I could go on and on, but I don't have my chalk. Maybe it's in my coat still --->

    5. BobChip
      Holmes

      Presentation methods

      Back in the days (20 yrs ago) when I was a visiting lecturer, my preferences were :-

      1 Paper. Hand out lecture notes. Flexible and foolproof, provided you remember to bring them. Also ensures that students have to LISTEN to you, rather than doze off in a darkened room.

      2 OHP transparencies. Note that each individual transparency can be produced using a different software package if required. And carry / check on availability of a spare bulb. Super flexible, not stuck to one layout format, not stuck to pre-set display order etc... And hand out a printed set of the slides for revision.

      3 Whiteboard / blackboard. Last resort as my handwriting is utterly illegible.......

      Even though PowerPoint was available, I would not use it then and I won't use it now. it is an intellectual straightjacket.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Presentation methods

        My own preference, working in education, has for a long time been the Interactive White Board and some fixed, JPG etc images. So that I can place an image, diagram or chart in front of the assembled and then scrawl arrows, demonstrations or key words on it as I talk.

        PowerPoint is lazy, fussy, over-complicated ( to view) and usually tedious. And it tends to make the presenter use too many tricks and gee-whiz effects that lose the message or simply determine content instead of supporting it. Time that would be better used to make sure the presentation is fluent and skilled is taken up finding flashy images and effects. Or loading video clips that seemed much better when they were seen in the planning stage, but are merely tedious in the actual training room.

        And yes, back in the Good Olde Days I used OHP. I could scrawl on the acetate while I actually looked at the audience, and just take one sheet off and replace it with the next as needed, or even go back to one, without any button pressing and fiddling. Frankly, that was far better than any modern gee-whizzery. Sometimes simplest is best.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Presentation methods

        I would like to deliver this quarter's financials through the medium of interpretive dance.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The event was held in the depths of a hotel beyond the reaches of any phone signal, so the lack of any type of cable-free internet access somewhat took the shine of the ability to do anything with the app, other than to admire its splash screen. Hmm, splashy."

    Feature not bug.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got to laugh at my boss.

    He had made me & other minions whip him up a PP presentation full of bulleted data points, charts & graphs of corporate financials, whiz bang graphics & a happy-bouncy "Elevator Muzak" song in the background. We test the hell out of it on multiple systems to make sure it will work on as many different ones as possible, since none of us minions have been given the OK to attend whatever function where he'll be making said presentation. Since we can't be there to check the equipment before he starts, we're trying to proactively defuse them before they blow up in his (& thus our) face(s).

    After saving his presentation as a PPT, an AVI, and even exported it as an EXE file, he's got it on a DVD, a spare FlashDrive, the laptop's HDD, *and* a copy on his damned phone - if he can't get to a copy then it's not OUR fault he left everything at home.

    He goes to the function, a Friday over the weekend affair at some posh resort no doubt, & we relax to get back to our normal duties, but then Manglement calls an All Hands meeting to watch our boss on the big screen monitors as he makes his presentation live to our investors & shareholders. We think "This outta be fun!" & sit down to watch the fruits of our work in pseudo-IMAX wide screen glory...

    Only to have the boss accidently trigger a *different* PPT than ours. It was rather spit-spray-inducing & ROTFLMMFAO inspiring to see our boss madly clicking the close button on a PP-based porn slideshow.

    The presentation we had worked so hard to get right wasn't AS popular as the first one, but then we didn't include a donkey & several litres of melted butter.

    I got to shake the hand of our new boss when he showed up on the following Monday!

    *Cackle*

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: I got to laugh at my boss.

      Are you related to Simon Travaglia?

  9. Dr_N Silver badge

    Amateurs

    Even for internal events we use 1 laptop, set up and tested.

    Switching laptops is just asking for trouble.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Amateurs

      Switching laptops is just asking for trouble.

      Especially if Apple - why the heck do they keep changing the connector(*)?

      And all brands and OSes are guilty of pure dim-witted inability to "see" the projector sometimes. I have had Windows, OSX and Linux machines all fail to find the projector, whatever port it's plugged into, or see it but misconfigure it so you get 800x600 in the middle of a 1920x1200 projection with no way to change it until you reboot the blasted laptop and often reboot the projector as well.

      It used to be the case that the sure-fire way to make it work was to make sure the projector (or second monitor or whatever) was always turned on before the computer, but even that doesn't always work now.

      And then there's Powerpoint's recently discovered religious zeal for "presenter mode" which completely foxes some people who've only ever used a single screen previously and sometimes decides that the "presenter" screen is the projector, with the laptop as the screen for slides.

      Oh, and the people who bring Keynote slides expecting them to work on Windows.

      M.

      (*)Slightly different, but was setting up for a big university event a couple of weeks ago. Most people (lots of "stalls" in our main hall) were happy without a network connection, or using our WiFi, which doesn't really work well if more than 20 devices try to connect. One group "needed" a solid connection, so I plugged through a wire direct to the back of the WiFi system. "Oh, but we need two.", "Ok, I'll just sort out a small switch"... only to find that the Windows laptop they've brought is quite happy, but the other laptop is a MacBook Air and comes without a network socket. I can't repeat what I (nearly) said to the girl who blamed me for providing "the wrong sort of plug".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Amateurs

        We've rigged a meeting room WiFi, and fitted an Apple TV linked to a big LCD screen. All our internal laptops (Windows as well as OSX) run Airparrot and can drop onto the screen if required.

        It works, and no problems with driver changes as it doesn't use a display port. It's also much easier from a cabling perspective although you do sometimes need to feed laptops getting low on battery.

        We also have a backup: a flip chart. Works well :)

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Amateurs

        "the other laptop is a MacBook Air and comes without a network socket"

        Apart from the one you can plug into the lightning port.

  10. Efros

    Similar experience

    I got turfed out of my regular classroom and dumped in an unfamiliar environment, gone the luxury of the graphics tablet, projector and Open Sankore, take a step back a decade or so to the world of the whiteboard and the solvent laced markers. Within minutes I am covered in dry erase marker ink, and my class is complaining of lights hitting the whiteboard making it illegible from much of the room. Even in the places it can be read the contrast between the marker ink and the whiteboard (white is a vague reference to what the color of this board may have been at some distant point in time, mid grey would be a better description) is so poor that it becomes clear that I need a much broader chisel point on the marker. Finding a distinct lack of anything that will actually do the job I give up and put the lecture notes on my laptop and extemporize around them and we get through the hour actually quite successfully, I can BS with the best of them and I can be entertaining once I get on a roll. Just to reassure myself I make my notes available on the class site. Made it clear to the powers that be that if this happens again I want advance notification.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Similar experience

      "white is a vague reference to what the color of this board may have been at some distant point in time, mid grey would be a better description"

      We had a nice new supposedly highly reflective screen so it would be legible without taking too much care over blackout. A cleaner wiped it over with a not too clean cloth. The streaks and dribbles were there for ever.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: Similar experience

      @Efros: Thanks for the Open Sankore mention. That one needs playing with. Cheers.

      PS: I've taught basic maths everywhere from a pub, in a works canteen, in the Fashion cutting room (huge tables at standing height - actually worked well) and, my favourite, in a really nicely equipped small classroom with a low ceiling in a community centre.

      The lesson in the latter location was going well, until the most immense synchronised thumping sound started coming from the ceiling, accompanied by 80s disco music at ear damage volume. Further investigation revealed that the snug little seminar room was below the stage in the main hall and that the weekly aerobics session had started...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    snafu

    Microsoft promises to cure cancer in 10 years time. Hopefully, by then they'll have written an OS that they can use to present their findings.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Intel speed step has been activated"

    Once watched a friend giving a short presentation. Each presenter was on for about 30 minutes, so everyone was running off batteries. This laptop decide to announce every 30 seconds via a popup that "Intel speed step has been activated" (to save power)...

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: "Intel speed step has been activated"

      Reminds me of people forgetting to disable the screen saver. I recently had the pleasure of watching this and other beginner mistakes at an international conference, these were speakers who had decades of experience.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: "Intel speed step has been activated"

        @GrumpenKraut

        Reminds me of people forgetting to disable the screen saver.

        If they can. A former employer had a policy of locking down all teacher laptops. The standard image had the screensaver active. IT would not budge.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "Intel speed step has been activated"

          Given the (in)competence of most teachers(*), this was a smart step. Unlocked teacher laptops are a morass of malware and assorted (video and other) nasties.

          (*) My parents are teachers. I got to interact with their cow-orkers over a 30+ year period and for the most part was left wondering how some managed to tie their shoelaces in the morning, let alone actually teach. There were the (sometimes very) odd bright ones but the vast majority of teachers would have trouble organising a piss up in a brewery.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why....

    People should be sent on presentation courses.

    I was in the Army and went on a Regimental Signals Instructors course. This was based on the army standard of 'Advanced Instructional Techniques'. A mix of practical and theory, we had a lot of PowerPoint based lessons. The pass standards were brutal and the course was three months long.

    You had three lessons a week, ranging from 35, 65, 85 and 120 minutes.

    You had to finish one minute either side of the total length or it was a straight fail.

    You had to confirm knowledge by asking questions in the confirmation towards the end, if they got it wrong, you had to re-cover the topic and re-confirm, and they had to get it right or you failed.

    You weren't allowed to look at the screen, you had to have visual line of sight to the PC monitor (or laptop monitor) which showed the screen you were on and the one coming up.

    If you got anything wrong in your lesson you failed.

    If font, alignment, spacing, etc, was wrong, you failed.

    You had to have detailed subject knowledge, often of a subject you'd only been assigned at the start of the week and knew nothing about.

    If you waffled on, you failed.

    Most importantly, you had to be able to engage the audience, keep it motivated and interesting and keep it relevant.

    This meant that guys were up until 2am,3am, rehearsing over and over their lesson for the following day with one of the other students sat in as the audience. You got to know your topic very quickly, you were able to deliver a flowing presentation and you were able to handle mistakes, because they'd inevitably happen during your rehearsal.

    Some key tips:

    1 - You get a technical problem. You look at the crowd and simply say: "Folks, we're experiencing a bit of a technical hitch, if you could all please head outside for five minutes, get a quick refresh, and I'll let you know when to come back in."

    Don't be afraid to send your audience out the room (size dependant of course). Better to have them out of the room whilst you're swearing and cursing.

    2 - Don't swear. Ever.

    3 - Think very carefully about jokes. Test it first. If two people don't get it, don't use it.

    4 - Practice, practice and practice again. You should know what slide is coming up next without looking at the monitor. You know you're dealing with someone on top of their game when they flick to the next slide using their remote pointer, flow into it whilst talking and never once look behind them at the screen or down at the monitor. It's really impressive to watch.

    5 - Empty your pockets and keep your hands out of them. No loose change jangling, keys jangling.

    6 - Don't use your pointer as a wand and wave it about. Control your hands. Make purposeful gestures.

    7 - Leave the lectern. If there is one, don't even stand beside it. Put your large font crib sheet on it that you can walk over to whilst talking, and quickly glance at if you need a lead. Show determination and confidence.

    8 - If someone asks a question you can't answer, reply: "I don't have that answer but leave me your details at the end and I'll get it for you."

    9 - RSVP - Rhythm, Speed, Volume, Pitch. Work on it.

    10 - Enjoy the audience. Engage with them. They would rather have an enjoyable presentation than an hour of suicidal dullness. You work with them, they'll work with you to make it interesting.

    I fookin' love instructing.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This is why....

      7 - Leave the lectern. If there is one, don't even stand beside it. Put your large font crib sheet on it that you can walk over to whilst talking, and quickly glance at if you need a lead. Show determination and confidence.

      It used to be the case that people would be bound to the lectern. Then the occasional person would avoid it and, of course it looked special. Eventually all presenters avoided it. I've often wondered whether, after a series of such presentations it would be more effective for the presenter to stand behind the lectern and look authoritative.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: This is why....

        I've often wondered whether, after a series of such presentations it would be more effective for the presenter to stand behind the lectern and look authoritative.

        ...and benefit from the built-in microphone, which actually means they can be heard at the back of the hall. I've met more than one speaker who doesn't understand that their voice simply doesn't carry well, however loudly they think they are speaking. These types often refuse to wear the proffered tie-clip radio microphone, so microphones on the lectern are a godsend, especially if you have hearing-impaired users who are relying either on clear audio or on an induction loop / infra red / RF system.

        M.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is why....

      While I utterly agree that anyone wanting to have a presentation should practice appropriately...

      The army's budget makes the private sector looks tiny in comparison. So we're all glad that you practiced endlessly with impossibly high standards...

      ...shame the rest of the military complex kinda sucks a lot when it comes to cost vs actual results. And you're welcome for the wages.

  14. sandman

    If it can go wrong...

    My favourites:

    My first ever presentation with an old fashioned slide projector and 200 people. The projector jams completely, took me years to get over my newly acquired stage fright.

    A similar presentation, this time with a quick-thinking female colleague. A glass slide jams in the works, so she rushes into the venue kitchen, grabs a breadknife and saws the offending slice in half so it can be removed.

    A global webinar to launch an author's new book. I set up a Centra session in advance (as requested) and am ready to rock. Upstairs they have decided to set up a different session which doesn't work (because they have no idea what they're doing). The author blames me, I threaten to defenestrate him.

    My brilliant other half is at an international conference. After hours of PowerPoint presentations she wanders on stage with some notes and just talks to the audience. Voted best presentation of the day.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: If it can go wrong...

      "After hours of PowerPoint presentations she wanders on stage with some notes and just talks to the audience."

      I used to do more or less the opposite. I had a carousel of slides in my office. I could pick it up, collect the projector and do an introductory talk on forensic science with no notes because I'd pitch it at any level of audience from a school class to CID training as required.

  15. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Devil

    My hobby

    "...giving us an opportunity to try connecting to the venue’s Wi-Fi again. We’ve been trying all morning to no avail."

    Pretending that Wi-Fi works flawlessly on my (exotic) mobile when no-one else can connect to it.

  16. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
    Pint

    Obligatory. (Sort of.)

    Anyway: 3 hours left to pub o'clock and counting - have a nice weekend, everyone!

  17. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
  18. cosymart
    FAIL

    New laptop

    New laptop stuffed with USB sockets and so whizzy that Sooty would die of envy. Presentation suit at the swanky hotel - connector lead to the fixed ceiling mounted projector VGA !!!!

  19. J P
    Pint

    A perfect Friday Afternoon Treat

    Can't believe there've been >50 comments before anyone offers the obligatory beer for finding some Be Bop Deluxe to brighten the day

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme
      Pint

      Re: A perfect Friday Afternoon Treat

      Thanks, JP. As a Yank unfamiliar with some of the less well known (over here, anyway) British bands of my youth, you answered the question I intended to ask. Have one on me.

    2. smudge
      Pint

      Re: A perfect Friday Afternoon Treat

      Being a very big fan of Mr Nelson, I've only just realised that it's not an ad targetted at me following my online activities!!

      Speaking to you through electrical language...

  20. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Headmaster

    A 200-strong audience of paying conference attendees stare on impassively in disinterested silence.

    They may be disinterested (why wouldn't they be?), but I suspect you mean uninterested.

    disinterested = not influenced by considerations of personal advantage

    uninterested = having or feeling no interest in something; bored

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Disinterested

      You suspect wrong. I know what disinterested means and it is the word I intended. It means impartial: the audience was impassive because they didn't care one way or another. If they were bored, they would not have been siting still.

  21. Herby

    A story related to me by my mom...

    Back when my mom was helping my dad (both MBA's from a prestigious university) with notes for a series of lectures he was giving it was difficult. The first few they had bunches of notes, and my dad ran through them so fast he had time left over. As time went by, the notes diminished, and the presentations got better with content, filling up the time available. Eventually my dad could do presentations with notes written on the back of an envelope all the while engaging the audience and transferring knowledge to them.

    I will note that this was before such visual aids like carousel slide projectors and the like. Chalk boards were the only thing used. Very basic.

    Yes, good presentations are a skill to be learned, and PowerPoint will never substitute no matter how hard you try.

  22. Richard 12 Silver badge

    This is why you leave the laptop at the back

    Never use your own machine on stage. It will try to get you fired.

    Give the PP file to the technical crew.

    They will play it on their machine which is known to work, and you get a button to press that does nothing more than BEEP in the technician's headset.

    And if you actually give it to the tech more half an hour before, they will have gone through it and made sure everything actually works.

    And never, ever embed a video clip. The DRM will ensure that it does not work when you need it.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This is why you leave the laptop at the back

      "Never use your own machine on stage."

      OTOH I've seen relying on the lecture room's machine be a little...difficult. This was back in the days of slides. There was a 35mm slide projector and an ancient epidiascope (no, spill chucker, not an episcopalian) which would take very large glass slides. The lecturer brought along glass slides which were too big for the 35mm & not big enough for the epidiascope. It ended up with someone suspending the slides in the gate of the large projector with sticky tape. IIRC the lecturer belonged to a department which shared that particular lecture room.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: This is why you leave the laptop at the back

      Oh God yes!!!

      The number of times I've set up one of our trusty laptops and asked a presenter to use that. But she has insisted that she uses her own laptop - often because the presentation exists only on her HDD.

      And inevitably something won't work. A connection, or a driver, just something. And they are always the ones who turn up at the last minute.

  23. Sloppy Crapmonster

    This is why, in my previous life as a video support lackey, the presenter on stage had a clicker that lit up a light at my station behind the screen so *I* could press the "next slide" button on the computer that was actually attached to the projector.

  24. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Conference kit:

    Set of decent whiteboard pens (the kind with visible ink tanks).

    Set of decent marker pens (using whiteboard pens on flipcharts ruins the pens)

    Pump spray bottle of whiteboard cleaner (50:50 water/isopropanol with a shot of detergent) and cleaning rag

    Pack of tissues (most places have paper towels in the bathroom for large scale cleaning jobs but some dont)

    Flipchart pad(s) and stand(s) (you'd be surprised how many venues don't have these)

    Whiteboard(s) and stand(s)

    Portable PA and projector. (ditto)

    Several dozen magnets (for the flipcharts)

    Every conceivable adaptor you can think of for connecting your laptop to the AV system.

    Or just write out your requirements and add a bowl of skittles that's had all the orange ones removed. If you see any orange skittles then you know that they probably haven't bothered with the rest of it.

    What amazes me is going to various venues and seeing the same glaring deficiencies again and again - with regular attendees apparently not learning the lesson from the last visit.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow...

    These comments cobtain a whole lotta hole.

  26. Dr_N Silver badge

    FBI Update: 14.5kg

    I thought it was the DEA who dealt with these things?

  27. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Happy

    Oh how the Mogwai rejoiced! (not the band called Mogwai)

    ..when PowerPoint was invented! And an all-night party was thrown when Windows 10 was released!

    If I had a nickel for each time I've had to be the guy the hurries up to the podium to quickly change the refresh rate, etc. to get one of these presentations running that earlier was working perfectly... well I'd have at least $20..

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Felt like I was there

    Good writing.:-)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Asking for trouble - using Windows for anything important

    There's no excuse any more. You can have it all on a bootable linux drive, with the presentation running safely in LibreOffice, or any number of other bits of modern, working software.

    Then, if your Mac fails, and your iPad has been stolen, you can use any bit of hardware to boot up your presentation.

  30. N2 Silver badge

    Whenever I cant sleep

    Which isnt very often

    I imagine Im in a presentation involving 250 power point slides of mindless drivel

    dosnt take long to get the right result

  31. Grunchy

    John Cleese discussed this very topic at length in one of his refreshing videos about this sort of thing.

    The solution they came up with (decades ago): test the equipment BEFOREHAND.

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