The abbreviated talk Hollywood director Michael Bay gave at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show was an excruciating 90 seconds. Speaking before industry experts, Bay was there to promote a new TV. But, panic caused him to flee the stage when a TelePrompter miscue left him with nothing to say.
Bay may be a master of movie production, but the director ignored the cardinal rules of large audience prep. These guidelines will ensure you own the room.
- Take advantage of advance on-stage rehearsal time. Bay admitted he didn’t bother with a run-thru because he had flown in late. You can’t show up 5 minutes before your slot and expect the equipment to operate flawlessly. Even if it means an early wake up call, a full rehearsal gives you a chance to iron out any kinks.
- Script rewrites meant Bay didn’t know his lines and he recognized trying to fake his way through technical product specs before the savvy crowd wasn’t an option. The only way to own a script is to practice aloud especially when you are unfamiliar with the content. Words on paper may read fine but sound garbled when spoken aloud.
- Bay’s panic was a “human moment.” Things do go wrong and audiences know that. If he had taken a deep breath and calmly asked the TelePrompter operator to back up, he could have started over. Not ideal but better than fleeing. Audiences are forgiving and they will reward the speaker who perseveres.