Saturday 21 July 2007


During my career I've witnessed a few thousand presentations I reckon. Some have been great. Others have been dire. But one was so bad it deserves special mention.

The man was the last presenter of the conference. This should have been the creme de la creme. It was late in the day on the last day of the conference. Keeping the attention of an audience at this time is difficult enough. And usually a sensible event organiser ensures this slot is allocated to a hot topic with a white hot presenter! Not this time. The topic seemed compelling enough. But the presenter just wasn't up to it. Not only did he not seem up to the task, he didn't seem to care.

He started his presentation by pointing out that the organisation he works for has recently (like in the last week) undergone some fundamental changes and a new operating model. He told us that this meant that everything in his presentation was completely irrelevant but he was going to go ahead and present it. Hmmmm, I thought, this is a bit odd. He's just told me he is going to waste my time. Should I leave?

The speaker continued to take jabs at his organisation throughout his entire time slot. He was clearly an unhappy bunny. And he was going to let all of us know about it.

At one point, he picked up his glass of water to take a drink, put it back down and proceeded to stare off into space. After a few moments he recovered and admitted out loud that he had completely checked out and seem surprised to find himself standing in front of all of us. "Ah, yes, I was miles away. Where was I was?" he mused.

I watched this continue for about 20 minutes. The audience was looking around at each other in disbelief. One of my colleagues across my table kept looking at me and bursting into silent laughter.

Alas, I could take it no more. I packed up my bag and left. And I took with me a very bad taste in my mouth for his organisation.

Besides making an idiot of himself, he also made a mockery of the organisation he works for. Now, I'm not sure who in his organisation even knew he was speaking. If they did, I doubt they gave it a second thought. But I can guarantee I won't ever consider a job with them. EVER!

I think a lot of managers forget that when people speak at conferences they are ambassadors of that company. They represent our brand and the values those brands stand for. These are advertising moments. Advertising for our products/services and advertising for recruitment. I have subsequently seen numerous vacancies posted for the company and I just laugh.

And he won't be getting an invite to join my professional network!

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