The old joke goes that there are two great things that come out of Scotland … single malt scotch, and the road to England! Of course being English I think it is funny, but having played soccer with a team of Scotsmen for more than 20 years, here in Canada, I usually keep that to myself! Despite the joke, Robert Burns was another good product of Scotland and it was he who produced the quote referenced above.
Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I am a big proponent of preparation, planning and then executing on the plan. I am also a pragmatist, so when I went to a software demonstration today … which due to various technology glitches did not happen as advertised, I had a little chuckle to myself. I have been on the other end of these situations, anxiously scrambling to make the thing work, inwardly cursing because of course it all worked yesterday or an hour ago!
There are some great lessons that can be learned in these situations.
1. There is really nothing to do but be humble. It is a good lesson in life, none of us is perfect, we will make mistakes and technology will invariably let us down … so ‘fess up and apologise! It doesn’t hurt all that much!
2. Don’t panic … deep breathing, think logically through all the steps to right the situation. Once the brain goes into that crazy place where it can’t think straight you are toast! The experience you gain when this happens a few times will stick with you for life!
3. An appropriate sense of humor can help … but is also dangerous. There is a good chance someone in the intended audience will resent their wasted time, so appropriate humor may help … or might just fuel the fire!
4. If it is a remote demo then you need to keep the audience informed and set expectations. However having the phone on mute while you curse is probably a good idea!
5. Remember it can happen to anyone … and if your job is giving demos it will surely happen again!
When all else fails fall back to the Scottish connection … single malt scotch might just do the trick!