Tough Room

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The term "tough room" usually refers to a tough crowd in said room that a presenter has to deal with. Well, here's a case where it was actually the room (if you can even call it that) itself that was causing me problems ...

Tough Room This (see photo) is what I found at the local Hobby and Electronics fair: An open stage, in the middle of a very noisy exhibition hall with a sort of beer garden on one side and a very busy booth, featuring loud boom-boom-boom type of music and scantily clad girls, on the other side. Such a nice environment for a presentation ...

I've given a presentation at this fair before, when it was held in a different place. I remember it being noisy there, too, but not this loud. Wow.

A helpful technician fitted me with a microphone. I did the usual "test, test" routine - and realised that I couldn't hear myself. I actually had to ask the audience if they could hear me to be sure that everything was working. Technical problems don't usually throw me off but not being able to hear myself talk was very irritating. As a result, I messed up the first couple of slides before I adjusted (more or less) to the environment.

The next hurdle: Questions. A person in the audience had a question, but I couldn't understand what he said. I had to actually get down from the stage, walk up close to him and ask him to repeat the question. There's simply no way to connect with your audience in such an environment. My last slide had the usual "Thanks - any questions?" on it, but I skipped it (I was also under time pressure since the presentation before me had overrun its slot) and so invited people to come over to the nearby booth instead, where I was about to spend the rest of the afternoon anyway. Nobody showed up - not sure if that was due my poor performance or that they simply didn't have any questions. Oh well.

And tomorrow, I'm going to give the same presentation again, in the exact same spot ...

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