When technology goes wrong

At work, we have a regular whole team gathering (that’s 100+ people) that takes place on the first Wednesday of the month. It’s rather inventively known as ‘First Wednesday’ and is a cunning combination of nice lunch (to get people to the meeting) followed by an hour of presentations on assorted work-related subjects.

For some reason, I’ve had the dubious privilege of presenting at this function several times. I had the pleasure again today, and this morning while tidying up my script could be heard bemoaning the fact that we didn’t have a remote control with which to manage the PowerPoint slides. Usually, someone else does them for you, but that never quite works out the way you’d hoped it would.

On arriving at today’s meeting, I was informed that a remote control had recently been acquired and that June’s First Wednesday was to be its inaugural outing. I was both exceedingly excited and relieved that I wasn’t going to be the first presenter using it. As the meeting wore on I grew more and more concerned. No one was having much luck with the remote – it went too fast; it didn’t work at all; it shut the laptop down…all generally a bit frustrating.

I was the penultimate speaker and only had one slide in which timing was crucial. What was the one slide on which the remote went too fast? That one. Sod’s law! It also turned off the screen completely, but by that point I’d decided to carry on regardless. Stupid technology – who needs it?

The other problem with this function is that attempts at humour are sometimes lost on the audience. In our first joint presentation, C and I adapted a classic Simpsons quote – Troy McClure’s catchphrase: “You may remember me from…” and didn’t raise a murmur (though one colleague did e-mail her appreciation of the reference subsequently). Today, I described my Missing Generation project [I could go into this in detail, it’s honestly fascinating, but could bore the pants off you] as sounding like an Enid Blyton mystery, but I feel few noticed or found amusing the subtle reference…serves me right for trying to be funny. I should know better.

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