Murphy’s Law in Full Swing

Hi all! Hope you enjoyed your weekend and are in full swing with whatever this week brings, ESPECIALLY if it’s good stuff.

This one should have been quicker but backstory and set-up slowed me down. I’m shooting for relatable instead.

Last year my supervisor at work offered me a 4-session-speaking gig: I was asked to familiarize a small group of regular and special education teachers with software my school district makes available to our students. Since one of my aspirations is to get paid to talk in front of folks, I jumped on the opportunity. (Oh, if I were paid by the word… I could be semi-retired… ;))

Gave my first workshop. Wasn’t as prepared as I might have liked, but I had a kick-butt handout loaded with links and how-to’s. The session went fairly well, considering the computer provided with the projector functioned okay on our school’s not-so-wonderful wireless network; and since the point of a workshop is to create a springboard for going deeper into the info on one’s own. And as the presenter, I’d learn what to improve upon for the next session.

Feeling okay about the overall outcome of session one, I ramped up the handout and practiced the presentation at home. Put enough time into it that I felt highly confident going in, about 3 weeks after the first session. I even decided to bring my laptop since I have Windows 7 and the school’s laptops are still running XP. (Let’s not go there…)

Holy, moly. Biggest. Mistake. Ever. The first application wouldn’t even open. (That was only the lead-in and foundation for the other three.) The school’s network was ridiculously uncooperative, even with the school’s computers employed by the teachers present. It was so bad, if two people left-clicked the same link, one got directed to one page and the other person to another. That led to people frequently raising hands to ask for help and totally disorganized my presentation of the material, even with my detailed handout—fully marked and highlighted with relevant points.

My bookmarked page, to an excerpt from one of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, was blocked.


It was a horribly embarrassing experience, in front of the teachers who are not only my colleagues but taught (or will teach) my sons.

One bright spot: two years prior I’d helped a tech who’d been contracted to present a similar workshop. One of the teachers who’d attended remembered having similar problems, network-generated.

There are just some things one cannot control. Knowing that helped me get over how bad my presentation seemed and what my coworkers must have been thinking (and might still think). Also wondering how major a gaff it was to bring in my laptop–but I wasn’t all that thrilled with the district’s either. What say you about the next time I present?

Care to share one of your most mortifying disasters, professional or not? What happened? How did you deal? Open forum begins now!

Have a great day!

4 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law in Full Swing

  1. It might have been easier if you had a blackboard along with the hand-out. I’m sick of failed technology. Remember back to the old days?
    My girls told me that their college classrooms didn’t even HAVE blackboards, relying instead on overhead projectors. And they kept screwing up. This is just bloody wrong.


    1. Hey Irene! A blackboard would have been reliable in its own right, but each teacher had a laptop for hands-on work during my presentation. As much as I’ve grown to be amazed and tremendously interested in technology–a digital pen is charging off my computer as I type–the REAL problem is we’re far too dependent on and lost without it.

      Much of my area lost power for a minimum of five days after Superstorm Sandy. One of the food stores opened and calculated the bill with good old-fashioned paper and pencil (for non-perishables, of course).

      The flip side: I wouldn’t have to write and/or revise a manuscript or a kid’s report by hand. Give me technology and cut/copy/paste any day, especially when I need to do an update.

      Thanks so much for your comment! Always a pleasure 🙂


  2. So sorry things didn’t go smoothly. I was presenting my research at a public health conference a couple years ago. We each only had 7 minutes to speak. Of course, as luck would have it, the PowerPoint slide advancer they had wasn’t working, so fiddling with it cut into my time. What can you do? Just gotta grin and bear it.

    By the way, this: “one of my aspirations is to get paid to talk in front of folks” shows that you and I have vastly different aspirations. 😉


  3. “(Y)ou and I have vastly different aspirations,” and yet I think we’d still have a lot of fun hanging out. You bring to mind my coworker/ close friend, who typically tells me she would vomit if she were the one speaking. I used to make microphones with a ping-pong ball, ice cream stick, foil and a shoelace and present nightly after dinner musical extravaganzas to my parents. (Poor things kindly suffered through each one, lol. Such is a parent’s love…) And yet, I was actually quite shy until my early twenties, when I got sick of being so and took definite steps to change that. (I don’t even believe it, lol.)

    Funny, but this past Monday that same supervisor asked me to give my presentation as a parent workshop. I was nuts enough to say yes. Of course, I’ll get there early and PRACTICE to make sure things go smoothly. And this one wouldn’t necessarily be as much of a “hands on” deal.

    As always, thanks for stopping by and for your comment. Yes, grinning, bearing and moving on is what one does.


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