Exit stage left – what not to do when tech lets you down

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Oh my goodness, I am glad I wasn’t moderating this particular conference.

“Transformers” director, Michael Bay, spectacularly lost his nerve and just walked off the stage, leaving the audience (not to mention the moderator) dumbfounded. Apparently his autocue was not working as it should.

The session was billed as a Q&A with a Samsung executive at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) to talk about a new curved TV screen. It was planned and rehearsed so that the interviewee knew what was coming. He even had a guide script on the autocue. When that seemingly froze, Mr. Bay panicked and fled. Without his notes, he was lost. Perhaps – and this is pure speculation – someone else had written his responses for him and he hadn’t had time to familiarise himself with the content.

Nonetheless, he could have handled it much better.

Preparation is always important when it comes to making a speech, taking part on a panel or even ahead of an important telephone call. As Mark Twain is often credited as saying, “it takes me more than three weeks to write a good off-the-cuff speech”.

Beware though of relying too heavily on notes, technological or otherwise. Ditch the script and stick to bullet-points.

Mr. Bay should have taken a deep breath and explained to the audience that there was a tech-issue which had thrown him a little. He could appeal to the moderator for prompting – I know when I moderate I thoroughly prepare and will know the gist of the content. This pause in proceedings would have allowed the tech team to may be fix the problem and then Mr. Bay could have been back on track.

Even without his autocue though, Mr. Bay would have done well to have stored a couple of stories or anecdotes up his sleeve that he has told a million times. He would have bought himself time to recover his composure.

Meanwhile, Bay wrote about the incident on his blog.