Have any volcanoes gotten in the way of your business plans recently? I certainly hope not. John Cleese had to take a $5000 cab ride so he could get to an airport that had planes that could actually get airborne. Other travelers are still sitting and sleeping in the airport. I’m sure someone somewhere was thinking about that Icelandic volcano before it spewed its dust and debris into the atmosphere. That’s the person I want to be like. You may be thinking that you don’t have to worry about any old volcano. You do have to if you realize that there are many unexpected things that could happen in business today and you will have to address them. Do you have a Plan B?
I recently delivered a three hour presentation to the wonderful folks at the Great Plains Technology Center in Lawton, Oklahoma. Just like every other presentation I make plans before delivering the program. I ask myself before it, “What can go wrong?” That’s why I have several back up plans for each presentation I deliver.
First, I review my notes thoroughly before each presentation. If you were to shake me awake at night I would be able to tell you the beginning sentences of my program and the concluding remarks I have before it ends. Why is that so important?
I want to immediately engage my audience when I start my program. Lots of uhms and a weak voice just won’t cut it. I’ve got to be prepared. Then I want to make sure that if the projector breaks I can continue the program without a projector. What do I do? I print handouts with six slides on each page so I can quickly switch to a paper version of my presentation and see what slides come next. I set these up before my presentation so I don’t have to get them out if something goes wrong.
What if my computer malfunctions? I have my presentation on a key drive and can hook up to another computer just in case I need it. Have I thought of everything? Nope. Last week I didn’t.
When I started my presentation after saying the first two sentences, the lights went out in the conference room. The air conditioning went off and the projector shut down. Had the ash from the Icelandic volcano gotten all the way to Oklahoma? Hardly. A poor driver on his way to work hit a transformer and shut the power down on an entire campus. I certainly didn’t expect that!
I learned about the accident when someone walked into the conference room and told us that the entire campus had no power. I immediately said, “Well, lucky for all of you I’m really good at pantomime and will continue the program without the slides. Anything I need to demonstrate, I’ll be the visual aid!” They laughed, but that’s what happened. I explained some visuals to them. They got it and the program went on without a hitch. About a half hour later, the power went back on.