Poor old Michael Bay.
That’s not a sentiment you’re likely to see on screen or in print that often, so I thought I’d kick off this blog with a simple expression of sympathy. This famously aggressive director of famously mindless films found himself lost for words at the CES event in Las Vegas this week, when he was due to co-present the launch of Samsung’s new curved widescreen TV, to a 200-strong audience of technology journalists and interested parties.
On his blog, Bay blames over-excitement about the ‘stellar’ product, coupled with a faulty teleprompter. The result: disaster. He lost his place, tried to ad-lib, failed to respond to the helpful questions posed by his Samsung co-presenter, and left the stage, shaking with fear. Cue plenty of sympathetic comments on Michael’s blog (mixed in with odd delighted gloat).
Still glowing with good will after the Working Voices Christmas celebrations, I thought I’d give Mr Bay a few suggestions.
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. I suspect this isn’t something you have to do very often on your movies (do toy robots need to run through a scene before you put it on camera?), but it does help before a presentation. How familiar were you with the material?
- Have a back-up plan. Technology very often fails on us. For an event like this, make sure you’ve got written notes handy to refer to, if you really need them (but if you’ve paid proper attention to point 1, you won’t!).
- Choose your reaction. Remember, an audience won’t necessarily notice, or remember, if something goes wrong. What they will be aware of is your reaction to it. Stay calm; keep breathing (see point 4 below); don’t panic. Stay focused on the results you want- the message you want to deliver, the effect you want to have on your audience- rather than leaving yourself at the mercy of events that are beyond your control.
- Keep breathing. I think that you pretty much stopped breathing during your moments of panic on stage. If something goes wrong, take a moment to centre yourself, re-focus, and connect with a low, deep breath. This will help you stay relaxed and physically focused.
- Believe in your material. I’m sure Samsung are paying you a lot of money to promote their products. But do you really think that Samsung’s Curve TV is all that good? (If you have doubts, you’re not alone, as most of the tech journos at the launch weren’t that convinced either). I doubt you’re lost for words when you’re talking about something you really believe in, like your film ‘Armageddon’. If there’s nothing of intrinsic interest in the subject for you, then extrinsic motivators (like money, for instance) won’t necessarily make you any better.
- Try again. Don’t let this put you off. Volunteer for another presentation as soon as possible- but make sure you’re ready next time!