Push a Button

As I write this, I’ve just come from a meeting where we couldn’t get the laptop to sync with the large monitor in the conference room. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

It’s crazy, because this was a very sophisticated company with a very sophisticated conference room. We got there early, connected everything, and promptly got nothing. They had four tech guys come in and try and get it figured out. Not one tech guy after the other. All four at the same time. I helped, of course. My contribution was staying the heck out of the way and not suggesting things to try. Despite using lots of technical words and mustering expressions of the deepest concern, they could not figure out why the signal wasn’t getting from the laptop to the monitor. We finally had to resort to Plan B. I’m not sure if my partner was ever a Boy Scout, but he was definitely prepared. I plan on making him an honorary 719-er in an upcoming solemn ceremony. Watch your inbox for the invitation.

He had emailed the presentation to our client the day before, and our client had uploaded it onto the company server. They knew we were presenting to this larger group in a different building across town, so they did that just in case. 

Turned out, case. We ran the presentation off the server using the company’s network and keyboard, and it was fine. Of course the remote to advance the presentation didn’t work, so we used the keyboard. And the volume (using a different remote) only worked if you moved the chair at the head of the table out of the way. But other than that, it went flawlessly.

This experience was in direct contrast to a presentation we had earlier in the week. This meeting was a smaller, less formal one with just one person (other than our team of three), so we were not in an A-level conference room. We just found a small meeting room, and were going to present with boards and a laptop, but the client wrangled up a projector and said, “See if you can get this to work.”

And darned if we didn’t. We plugged it in, connected a cable from our Apple DongleBook Pro to the projector, and we were in business. We were ready to go in under five minutes, and the presentation went great. There’s something to be said for simple. 

Of course, there’s nothing unusual about either situation. Everyone has been there. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re smart, you bring all the adapters and cables you think you’ll need, and you get there early.

In spite of me apparently feeling qualified to dispense with all manner of sage advice vis-à-vis projectors, however, the laptop-to-monitor connection was the source of one of my most stressful moments ever.

We were pitching to a group of about 30. We got there early, but as the group began filing in, we were still messing around, trying to get the laptop to display. Or more accurately, the account person and my fellow CD were messing around. I was once again helping by not helping. It wasn’t my laptop, and I didn’t want to be another cook in the kitchen. 

As the hum in the room got louder and the clock ticked unsympathetically past our start time, the stress was rising exponentially. Actual stress from my partners, and sympathetic stress from me. 

Finally, five minutes past our start time, laptop still not showing up, my partner turns to me and whispers fiercely, “Fix this damn thing. Push a button or something.” Then he turns around and says, “Hi, good morning, thank you all for joining us today.” And they both start the presentation! Holy crap! 

You can imagine the rush of cold panic that went through me. I’m half Chinese, and my eyes got so big I looked almost Caucasian. No more sympathetic stress from me. Actual stress now, and redlined.

I bent over the laptop and had no idea what I was doing. I pushed buttons. And believe it or not, I somehow had it going in about two minutes. I think I went into the screen mirroring settings or something. I don’t know. I think the ghost of Elvis guided my hand. Why Elvis? Because the ghosts of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison were busy chatting up the ghost of Marie Antoinette.

So the pitch began, but it went crappily. We had done a ton of great work, which included an awesome video that turned out to be too huge to run on the laptop we had brought. We played it, and it stuttured and lurched and was ultimately unwatchable. We had created it to set a tone for the meeting, and that’s exactly what it did. 

It wasn’t the worst meeting I’ve ever been in, but it sure didn’t go well. And needless to say, we didn’t get the business.

Ah well. Some days the connections work and some days they don’t. Know what I mean?

4 Thoughts to “Push a Button

  1. I think everyone can relate to that story. I have been there so many times and wonder why we spend so much money on technology. In my world add a foreign language barrier and it gets worse. I always bring a printed version and/or suggest we watch from my tiny macbook pro. LOL your in good company

  2. Well, like Teddy Roosevelt said, “The credit belongs to the man who’s in the arena…marred by dust and sweat…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

    I’m guessing TR’s ghost would apply this to faulty technology as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *