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February 14, 2006
First Slide, Please
I spent a good party of my day today in various meetings, but (fortunately) I didn't have to present anything at any of them. There have been some close calls over the years.
Back at a former company, I sat down in one of our group meetings, idly wondering who was going to be presenting today. What a pleasant surprise to find out that it was me! "I asked Derek a couple of weeks ago to put something together on this approach to our binding data that he's been working on. . ." said my boss, as I looked at him in dawning terror. Yes. . .yes. . .he did do that, didn't he. . .it's all coming back to me now. . . I had nothing prepared, nothing at all. Actually, I had very little to talk about in the first place, because the approach he was referring to hadn't yielded anything interesting. I'd dropped it just a couple of days after he'd asked to talk about it. Now, if I'd remembered that I was supposed to present, I could have at least left some doubts in people's minds about whether I was on to something. But as I staggered through a grim chalk talk, the true state of affairs became horribly clear.
Not all of these situations have ended in disaster. I recall a meeting where a number of us were presenting on our current projects. I had just been put in charge of a new one, which fact had somehow not registered on me as I wandered in to the conference room ready to hear from everyone else. After the first couple of speakers, a tiny bell went off in my head. I turned to a friend of mine sitting next to me and took a look at the agenda: yep, there I was. Coming up after two more speakers. Well, now.
I excused myself and sauntered over to the door. As soon as it closed, I bolted for my office and threw together a fast handful of slides (fortunately, I had the makings already, otherwise I'd have been doomed for sure). I returned in plenty of time, and gave what was a much more coherent presentation than it had any business being. Procrastination is one thing, but putting the presentation together twenty minutes after the meeting had started - that still stands as my record, and I've no desire to break it.
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