In Medieval times people believed that when mischievous sprites heard you wish for something they would make the opposite happen. Many show biz professionals still believe in them. I can attest to their existence. I have seen them in action.
In 2001, I was attending an American Society for Training and Development International Conference and Exposition keynote speech. The featured speaker began by saying that this opportunity to present in front of her colleagues was the completion of a lifelong dream. It was a bad choice of words. The audience responded enthusiastically. The sprites responding by freezing the presenter’s laptop. The presenter apologised and asked permission to reboot. As the computer tried to recover, the presenter stalled. 10,000 people waited … and waited … and waited. After 10 minutes and a different computer hook-up, the presentation finally began.
I had been forgiving up to that point. After all, the sprites can attack anyone. It is what occurred next that astounded me. The presenter could have continued without waiting for the PowerPoint to reload, but had not prepared for a sprite attack.
I’ve seen the sprites attack other presenters too. At the 2002 ASTD conference a famous presenter was discussing the proper usage of PowerPoint slides. Again the sprites pounced. There was a misspelling on a slide and a participant told the presenter so. The presenter interrupted the presentation and changed the slide as the entire audience waited. The sprite no doubt laughed.
In 2003 I was the presenter attacked. As I began a discussion of the distractions cell phones cause during modern training programs, a sprite commanded my computer to download software. I was forced to, like those presenters before me, halt my presentation and deal with a sprite.
All three examples are true. All put the presenter on the spot. All inconvenienced the audience. All were avoidable. In this article, I hope to help you outsmart the sprites by examining the extensive preparations show biz professionals practice. In fact the acronym for those preparations is P.R.E.P.A.R.E. We will discuss each of the steps in the acronym sequentially, beginning with Plan.