How to make a ‘save’. Update on Michael Bay meltdown

Welcome to Vegas2 Michael Bay meltdownWow. I’ve had a lot of questions on Michael Bay’s public speaking meltdown at CES and the article I wrote about it.

It’s painful to watch because many of us have either had public-speaking-anxiety-driven experience – or worried about one.

So I thought we’d focus on how to make a ‘Save’ when there is a problem public speaking.

In my earlier article on the Michael Bay meltdown I commented on how badly the other speaker on stage at CES, Joe Stinziano, VP of Samsung, handled the problem:

“Stinziano, left on stage by himself, temporarily looked horrified and the whole room felt uncomfortable.” “His first attempt to save the presentation also failed when, after a pause, he said ‘Let’s hear it for Michael Bay’! (Ah, there was no cheer)”


Watch the last 6 seconds for the right way to handle it.


Now, watch the last 6 seconds of the Michael Bay botched Samsung presentation. You see Joe Stinziano recognise the problem and release the pressure by saying “Welcome to Vegas, this is live shows folks!”.

Here he gets a great response of relief and laughter from the audience.

Even with public speaking anxiety, Michael Bay could have simply done the same thing.


How does a great speaker make a save?

When something does go wrong, don’t call undo attention to it. Steve Jobs showed us how to handle it during a keynote presentation in 2007. See the ‘Steve Jobs TV Jammer Story‘ on youtube.

His clicker failed and stopped advancing his slides. He spent 20 seconds trying to get it to work. Which was a little awkward, but Steve didn’t treat it like a disaster. While he waited for it to be fixed he told a story. And then someone fixed the clicker. And the presentation continued. Perhaps there was a little public speaking anxiety, but it was managed well. Steve was smiling, and the rest of the presentation went smoothly.

Problems occur in life too. We don’t need to freak out when they do.

So the technology failed. What’s the big deal??

Are you getting this? Here are the steps, write them down:

  1. The technology stops working.
  2. You say something like ‘This is not working’.
  3. You talk about something else while the problem is fixed.
  4. When the problem is fixed you continue…


Now, you might be thinking; ‘What if the technology doesn’t get fixed? What then??! It will be a disaster!!! My public speaking anxiety will swallow me whole.’

But will it be a disaster? It really doesn’t have to be. The steps…

  1. The technology stops working.
  2. You say something like ‘This is not working’.
  3. You talk about something else waiting for the problem to be fixed.
  4. After a point you realise the problem can’t be fixed in time.
  5. You say something like “This can’t be fixed in time”.
  6. You then recap your main points from memory based on your chunk structure.
  7. You ask if the audience needs clarification and explain as much as you can to satisfy them.
  8. You wrapup with your Vivid Message from memory (which encapsulates your core idea).
  9. You finish early – which is a refreshing change!

Sorry for being facetious with these simple steps. But I’m reinforcing a point I’ve made thousands of times to my clients – don’t sabotage yourself by making things more difficult than they need to be. The Vivid Method for Public Speaking addresses these challenges and shows you how to manage them.

I guess the bigger question is ‘Why don’t we deal with public speaking problems simply?’


Public Speaking Anxiety – why do speakers freak out?

Primarily, because we think we have to be different on stage to who we are in real life. In most business presentations this is a mistake, an unnecessary obstacle. It’s the major cause of public speaking anxiety.

Now, if you’re a master illusionist and your trick fails, that’s a different matter. You’re putting on a show and the promise is that your illusion will work. If you are juggling on stage and have presented yourself as a master juggler and you drop the balls. Thats a problem. Your promise to the audience is that you are a master juggler, that’s why you’re on stage.


What’s the promise to your audience when you speak?

In a business presentation, the implied promise you make to the audience is that you will:

  1. Have something relevant/interesting to say
  2. Connect with your audience
  3. Deliver a vivid message

You do not promise that the technology will be flawless or you’ll say it without any ‘ums’. Because that stuff is less important.

The lesson here is that no matter how bad the problem, you can make a save. Even with some public speaking anxiety. And your speech will still be great (as long as you can hit the 3 points listed above).


Here’s what to do

You ‘make a save’ by smiling, and naming the problem in front of the audience so they get that you get what the problem is. (Got that?!) This point of recognition releases the tension. Which not only dissolves the problem, it makes a connection with your audience. A strong positive connection.

For example: You smile at the problem, name it, and the audience smiles at the problem. Now you are viewing the problem together! That’s a connection with your audience. Many presenters are polished and rehearsed but make no connection with their audience.

In other words, making a save after a serious setback on stage, can actually get a better result and give you greater impact with your audience compared to a perfect, ‘flawless’ presentation.


Note to Samsung & Michael Bay: ‘Use this publicity’

What’s interesting about Michael Bay’s meltdown at CES, is that both Samsung’s new curved TVs, and Michael Bay’s new movie, have received far more publicity and exposure than they would have without this problem. Don’t leave the perception about a ‘meltdown’ Samsung and Michael Bay, get busy and deliver a new message that leverages the awareness already generated.


Examples of a ‘Save’ with little public speaking anxiety

Flight-Denzel-WashingtonIn the movie ‘Flight’ (2012) with Denzel Washington, an investigator is using a remote to control a screen in front of a public hearing on a airline crash.

This is the big climactic scene. The room is full and there are TV cameras and reporters all around. There are long pauses and intense scrutiny of both the questions and the answers. Then the investigator says “I want to show you something” and clicks the remote. Twice. It doesn’t work. And here’s what she says:

“Nothing’s happening. This remote isn’t working. Apologies, I can do this manually.”

There is 15 seconds of silence while she gets up from her seat at the front of the room, walks over to the laptop and gets the image up on the screen. 15 seconds might feel like a looong time when they eyes are on you. But it’s a minor issue in the scene.

Because it is a minor issue.

No one cares if President Obama or Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs or says ‘um’ or ‘ah’ during a presentation. You don’t have to be perfect, you just need to find a way to think clearly on stage if there is a problem.

Here’s some examples of technology fails that were ultimately a minor problem and didn’t result in an embarrassing meltdown for the speaker.

** Update: Golden Globes Autocue problem handled with a smile. Presenters Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie smile and handle the challenge effortlessly.  Loved Jonah Hill’s comment: “Let’s be real about it.” Yeah. Let’s.


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