In one of my first big conferences the Kmart team was in the hectic
stage of pre-meeting preparation. More than 250 people were going
to be in front of us a few minutes, several of whom were already in
their seats.

To open the conference I had prepared a
PowerPoint presentation,
which was on my laptop computer situated on the table at the foot of
the stage. Tom and Dave had a second laptop on which they were
going to show a new computer-based sales analysis tool we were
introducing to Kmart’s vendors.

Being somewhat inexperienced in conference preparation, we were
extremely stressed in trying to make sure every detail was covered.

Thirty minutes before the start we were quickly reviewing our
agenda. Computers were ready to go, the microphones were set,
and we all knew who would be speaking, for how long, and in what

Five minutes to go. People were in their seats. The set-up work was
complete and we could start to relax a little.

Then it happened.

Someone had set a glass of water on the table next to my computer,
which was the only one with the PowerPoint presentation. Nobody
noticed it until someone else bumped the table. The top heavy glass
immediately toppled right onto the computer.

The microphones were able to pick up the crackling noise and the
people near the front of the room could see a little steam come from
under the keyboard.

With only a couple of minutes to go, we were now left without the
opening presentation.

Tom, Dave, and I learned more about professionalism in seminars at
that moment than we ever could have gotten out of a textbook. You
must totally know what you are presenting so that when your
peripherals cease to be available you can still make your

To this day I do not recall exactly how we handled it, but the people
in the audience never knew anything had gone wrong. Evaluations
were exemplary and compliments flowed after the seminar.

More importantly, we were able to break any future tension by
simply saying, “Get away from here with that water.”

Life Lessons:
  • Morale #1: Know what you talk about.
  • Morale #2: Talk about what you know.

Use this ah-ha moment story for developing skills in these areas:
Half-full or empty,
it's still in the glass
As Aesop established hundreds of years ago with his
timeless fables we remember words best when we
become engaged in a story. Max has compiled an
anecdotal story collection designed to generate “ah-
ha” moments.
Click here to see more.

©2007, 2017 Max Impact, Rochester Hills, Michigan,USA