Of all the gigs to crash and burn – this was the ultimate. A Samsung press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the press watching with judgement poised and the successful film Director Michael Bay who choose to commit the mortal sin. Seventy seconds in – he walked out.
The teleprompter broke down. A powerless production team watched in horror, the audience shifted uneasy in their seats as he was unable to go on without it. The Host, Executive VP at Samsung by the name of Joe Stinziano just looked stunned. Both men on that stage knew their business intimately, they should have been able to talk to each other easily and freely without a teleprompter. That said it’s easy to become dependant on it.
A tough moment. As an Event Host I have interviewed many nervous interviewees, so I ask the question ‘How could that interview be handled differently?’ I noted 3 things that may have just saved the day.
1. Step up: Event Hosts are leaders. Take responsibility and take control of the situation. You provide clear leadership and guide the Speaker, the production team and most of all your audience.
2. Take the heat: Michael Bay was lost when the Tele prompter broke down. I felt for him, as the host you step in, take the heat, create some space and look to re-engage the Speaker. Give context or ask a simple question, the aim being to rebuild their confidence.
3. Open the door: If the Speaker walks out, enable them to come back. Think on your feet, talk about their achievements or the value of their on going relationship with Samsung. Whatever it takes to enable you to invite your speaker back with their dignity in tact.
The moment was a disaster for Samsung and their organisers, uncomfortable for the audience and embarrassing for Michael Bay. It just may have been different if a professional Event Host was on the stage.
In the heat of the moment things happen fast and control can be lost. What matters is how you get it back again. I feel for both Michael Bay and Joe Stinziano and just maybe next time they will do it differently. Take a deep breath and carry on.