“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Presenting goes wrong!

Today it happened. @jmspool has been warning me for close to decade to be ready for this moment, which I must say I handled like a pro, but alas, I was honestly unprepared for it. Today during a presentation I have, my computer died. DIED! CROAKED! DEAD! Shoot it in the head and get it out of all of our misery DEAD!

Let’s take a step back and tell you the tale and hopefully you’ll learn a few things to take away from my horrible experience.

Today I was to give a few talks while I’m in Israel. The talk that blew up in my face was to the Holon Institute of Technology. I was 1 of 4 speakers of the day afternoon, 1 of 2 who were on for an hour–Nath Shedroff was the final closer. The other two were local designers speaking for 20 minutes.

When I arrived, one of the Israeli speakers was having issues with her laptop set up so I volunteered to let her use my laptop. She did. During her talk the projector overheated every 5 or so minutes causing it to shut down almost instantaneously. The laptop worked flawlessly. She handled it like a trooper.

After a short break it was my turn. My machine being used by the previous speaker was all set to go. My presentation was going great! Then I hit slide number 36. I don’t remember if it was really slide 36, but I don’t really care at this point. The deck just wouldn’t move forward. The system crashed and when I re-opened, I tried to skip to the next slide, but each time I repeated this the system began to slowdown more and more, even restarting the entire computer didn’t help. It was just dead.

My gracious host was trying to find a way to help me through this tending my machine, while I did my best to remain calm and work without my deck. Having not really rehearsed this very new material, I didn’t know my deck well enough to do it justice. I percevered. I think I was even funny. Feedback later confirmed I recovered gracefully.

Fortunately, I had barely an older version of the deck on a USB drive and someone offered their laptop. I finished the presentation and received for my wounds probably one of the loudest applause I ever received for just talking about design without taking off my clothing. (No, I have never taken on my clothing on stage while talking about design or for any other reasons.)

But the story doesn’t end there. I was giving another talk across town @TheJunction32 a co-working space hosted by Gensispartners.com (a VC company). I didn’t have THIS talk on a key, but only on a Dropbox.com account. Unfortunately, the file was 120Mb, and took near a 1/2 hour to download onto a machine. I made it about 3 minutes before my start time of the talk.

The computer is still dead!

Wow! What a day!

The moral of the story:
1) Shit happens, be prepared for anything
2) Keep all your active presentations on a USB drive
3) Rehearse well enough that you can do your material w/ or w/o your deck
4) Be really certain that your deck needs to be as large a file as it is. Did you reduce images?
5) This is extreme, but keep an extra laptop w/ you at all times (OK, obviously most people won’t do this.)

It was really intense and out of all my time speaking was one of the scariest experiences I have ever had happen to me while speaking on stage in front of a rather large (200 or so) audience.

Well, I hope I got your pity and sympathy and wish me luck for my final talk/workshop on Thursday for UXi.org.il.

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  • Omri Eliav

    Dave, it was great meeting you yesterday. Yes, you handled it like a pro. The talk was excellent after all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Chen/707418943 David Chen

    Finger cross!

  • Shira

    I’ve been to the HIT talk and you were handling it great, as it was a nerve breaking situation. Good luck with restoring ur data and thanks for showing a good play in a stressful situation. Shira

  • http://designaday.tumblr.com/ Jack L. Moffett

    Ouch! Congrats for surviving that one. As for tip #5, maybe two laptops is a bit much, but being able to present off of both a laptop and a phone/tablet seems doable. I also make a habit of having Keynote, Powerpoint, and PDF versions of my slides.

  • http://www.facebook.com/boazrossano Boaz Rossano

    Hi Dave
    You knocked out the audience with an awesome presentation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/barak.danin Barak Danin

    LOL, I think you handled it very well :-)

  • Offir Ariel

    So that’s why you had a rented laptop today @ ZOA… ;-)
    Dave, I’m trying to reach you regarding giving another talk while you’re in Israel. If you’re interested, please contact me.

    Thanks for the great day at UXI today,
    Offir Ariel


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