Public Speaking Horror Story: Feminine Odor Spray
This week, we’re focusing on public speaking horror stories—mine and yours. (Please leave yours in the comments section below!)
Reader Susan Martin wrote in with a rather embarrassing moment:
“I was media training a high-profile physician, and part of the presentation included advice for doing interviews via Skype. To demonstrate the importance of camera angle and an uncluttered background, I planned to show her an interview another doctor had done recently that was posted on a news website. It had a commercial for hand lotion at the start, but that was only a few seconds long. However …. when I played it during the training session, that inoffensive hand lotion was nowhere to be seen. Instead it was an ad for some kind of “feminine odor” spray, and it was the longest 20 seconds of my life. We quickly moved on and the physician was very kind and did not remark on it. But I never played a live video from a website again!”
I feel your pain. No, I’ve never run a commercial for a feminine body spray, but I’ve had more than a few glitches with streaming video during live presentations. Sometimes it’s unavoidable (if the video is not downloadable for some reason), and I always hold my breath when hitting “play.” In my experience, streaming video in front of a live audience works only about 80 percent of the time.
In an effort to prevent live streaming video glitches, I download videos from YouTube using Freemake Video Downloader and insert the videos into PowerPoint. That usually works well, and it prevents me from having to rely on a live stream. And good news: if I’m reading the Freemake Facebook page correctly, you can edit the commercials out.
As a final precaution, I also load the videos as a live stream at the event venue before speaking. That way, if the PowerPoint crashes or the video has some sort of glitch, I can at least toggle over to the “live” version as a backup.
Thank you for sharing your public speaking horror story, Susan! I appreciate you reminding all of us of the dangers of streaming live video, whether it’s for an audience of one or one thousand.
Please leave your public speaking horror story—and your lessons learned—in the comments section below.
I had prepared a visual to show the value of a visual over words: one half was da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, naked as the day he was born.
At the end of the first presentation in which I used it – internal training for a major bank – one of the staff pointed out Vitruvian Man was naked and it might offend some people.
He was abolutely right of course, but it had just never occured to me; it’s a work of art! I changed it by placing a a small fig leaf over the potentially offending part and incorporated the story into my training material.
And John points out a curious phenomenon that I have noticed time and again… 98% of the “complaints” you get after a presentation are not from people who are offended themselves. They are “proxy complaints” from people who insist you change something because some other theoretical person might be offended. Why is this?
John and Ken —
Thank you for your comments!
Whether or not seeing a penis on a work of art offends people (I probably wouldn’t want to befriend anyone so prudish), I’d hypothesize that it could serve as a distraction for some people. And it may not be the penis itself that serves as the distraction, but thoughts such as, “I wonder if anyone will be offended by that?” or “It’s interesting that he left that image in.”
I’d generally advise that context matters. If a physician is talking about a disease of the testicles, he or she must include such photos. For a bank presentation where nudity is irrelevant to the topic, I’d leave it out.