Itâ€™sÂ been a week since Michael Bay fled the stageÂ after a teleprompter malfunction during Samsungâ€™s curved TV presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Â but people are still talking about it. Tina Fey even mocked Bay's meltdown moment on the Golden Globes Sunday night. It got me thinking there are probably some lessons to be learned from Bay's on-stage bust that could help your next presentation, even if it's just in a conference room, and not the big stage at CES.
First, a little backstory as they say in Hollywood. "Transformers" and super-action director Bay took a break from shooting his latest movie and was brought to Las Vegas for the day by Korean manufacturer Samsung to unveil their latest TV design.
He was introduced with some "Transformers" footage, walked on stage, and then was supposed to have a scripted Q & A with Samsung EVP Joe Stinziano. Things got started okay.
Samsung Exec: What inspires you? How do you come up with these unbelievable ideas?
Bay: I create visual worlds that are so beyond everyone's normal life experiences, and Hollywood is a place that creates...a...viewer escape. And what I try to do as a director.....(pauses, shrugs, sighs audibly)...the type is all off (the teleprompter)...sorry. But I'll just wing this.
Samsung Exec: Tell us what you think.
Bay: Yeah, we'll wing it right now. I try to take people on an emotional ride, and....um.........
Samsung Exec: The Curve? How do you think that is going to impact how viewers impact your movies?
Bay: Excuse me....I'm sorry....I'm sorry. (lowers head and walks off stage)
"Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES...I guess live shows aren't my thing."
In aÂ post on his website, Bay explained the mess. "Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES. I was about to speak for Samsung for this awesome Curved 105-inch UHD TV. I rarely lend my name to any products, but this one is just stellar. I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP's intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down â€“ then I walked off. I guess live shows aren't my thing."
And that brings us to our takeaways:
Don't depend on technology.Â
Computers crash, and go to sleep. Presentations get lost or corrupted. The people running the teleprompters and the computers for presentations screw up and zoom ahead or lag behind. It happens. In fact, count on it happening. PowerPoints and Prezis and videos and the like can certainly enhance a presentation. But the absence of those things shouldn't doom a presentation.
PowerPoints and Prezis and videos can certainly enhance a presentation. but not having them shouldn't doom a presentation.
Know yourself.Â (and your material)
Obviously Michael Bay and the Samsung PR team had developed a script for this presentation. And maybe like on a movie set, that script was changing and evolving right up to when he walked on stage. And the method for reading the script went awry. So what? He is a big-time film and commercial director and producer. An accomplished visual storyteller. He should be able to tell some stories, or at least answer questions about what inspires him, and about how this curved TV will create an IMAX-like viewing experience right in your home. Maybe throw in something from "Transformers 4" along the lines of "the autobots are going to be doing stuff that will blow your mind, and you'll be able to see things in your living room or basement or media room that have never before been technically possible, or even imaginable." Â He doesn't need to be able to enunciate even basic details such as the TV's movie-theater aspect ratio of 21x9, or that it boasts 11 million pixels. Anything you are able to talk about - and present - with a script, you should know well enough to present without the crutch of a script. Know what you are talking about! Michael Bay did. He just forgot what he knows. On the other hand,Â what if he prepared too much? What if to get through it he actually only planned what he was going to say? When his planned words are gone, speaking from the heart is almost impossible. You can over prepare as a speaker too. Connecting to what it is you are saying so it feels natural is more important than being prepared. Again not relying on the teleprompter would have helped him here.
Know your audience.
I don't know how many Staffing Talk readers have been to CES, but I have. It's crazy crowded and kind of fun. It's also populated with lots of tech types, many of whom are likely sci-fi fans, and many of those who are likely fans of the "Transformer" franchise. So for lots of people in the audience, they would probably be getting as big a thrill out of just seeing Michael Bay on stage as they would have hearing about the new UHD curved TV set. Just go with that. Know what the unique value proposition of your presentation is. For most of us, it's the content obviously. For Michael Bay, it was less the content and more the star power. So for this reason as well, it was a missed opportunity. And I think walking off before he delivered anything showed contempt for his audience - and his client.
Know what the unique value proposition of your presentation is. For most of us, it's the content.
Know what you want.
Every time we make a presentation, whether it's to our boss, our colleagues, co-workers, or a potential new client, we should know what it is we want to have happen at the end of our presentation. Are we trying to move somebody to do something, create buy-in for a new idea, generate comments, referrals, get new business? The end game and desired destination should be firmly in mind as we prepare our presentations, and as we give them. In this area, Bay does succeed. Despite the snafu, Bay said he is still "doing a special curved screen experience with Samsung and Transformers 4 footage that will be traveling around the world." Also, being remarkable is one of the single most important requirements to good marketing. And this instance was certainly remarkable. In fact, many have argued Samsung - and the Transformers franchise - got lots more publicity through this meltdown that either would have had the presentation gone as scripted.
Most people don't like giving presentations. In fact, public speaking ranks right alongside death as things we fear most. So maybe they're not your thing, just as Michael Bay said "live shows" aren't his. However, with some deliberateness and preparation (but not over preparation) we can use presentations as powerful tools to sell ourselves, our ideas, our services and our companies. And we are all in sales these days.