Highs and Lows of the Week: The Lows Have The Edge Unfortunately


Was planning to do a new post series for Sundays around the “most notable thing of the week.” Of course, I envisioned it to be about something amazing. And indeed I do want to touch on last Wednesday’s sail around NY Harbor which was one of the most glorious things I have done in a long while.

  • A group of us booked the Sunset Sail on the Shearwater, a classic Newport-style schooner built in 1929.
  • We drank wine and noshed on baguettes with foie gras (brought over from Toulouse by my friend’s mom). It was a magnificent night out on the water.
  • The boat seats 43 people and you book online.  It’s $45 for the sunset sail (but they have a wide variety of options including brunch and wine and cheese tasting). HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Now onto my major fumble of the week – perhaps that should be a series? I’ve written before about how excited I was to do an interview at the annual PSFK conference. Well it happened and I was gobsmacked by how utterly terrible I was. And I’m still not clear as to why I let it happen.

  • I had done a similar interview previously – and did a killer job of it, my client rated it a 10.
  • And it’s not like this was my first rodeo. I’ve done hundreds of keynotes and major speaking events.
  • How I messed up so badly this week is beyond me. But since this is probably something at least a few of us have experienced, I’m going to do a hindsight review of what went wrong and what I need to do in the future to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Read on below.

So here’s the story.

  • Twice before, I’ve had the opportunity to do an on-stage interview with Nicholas Morgenstern, founder of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream. He’s creative, very articulate and extremely hands-on in the food startup world. Nothing gets by him.
  • Additionally, he’s super-connected and always on the forefront of what’s new, so his storytelling around the ups-and-downs of restaurant life is both inspiring and entertaining. Our interviews have always been top-notch.

So what happened on Friday?

I can’t speak for Nicholas (altho we did a rundown of what happened and he’s probably on the same page) but this is what went awry for me.

From the stage I was only able to see the front row of people.

  • This always freaks me out. When I can’t see an audience or facial expressions, I feel like I’m talking to an empty room.
  • The fact that the speakers who were on before us, knocked it out of the park under the same circumstances, makes them even more phenomenal. And by the way, I will be doing a recap of the event and the speakers on  Monday.
  • I also now understand why Piers kept trying to encourage audience members to move up front, saying  “the speakers like it.” Yes, we do. And special thank you to the three gentlemen sitting in the front row who I was able to have eye contact with…you saved my day from totally sucking.

What To Do:

  • Ask to check out the stage, at one of the breaks before you go on, with the lighting exactly as it will for your talk.
  • If at all possible, ask to have the lights brought up. I have done this in the past and it makes a world of difference for me.

The Audio visuals didn’t work

  • Nicholas had slides to accompany the interview but after the first 3, the clicker no longer worked.
  • He did not believe the confidence monitor so kept staring at the screen behind us.
  • Of course, this is a major distraction – for the audience, for him and for me.

What To Do:

  • Do a run-thru with all the equipment before going on stage
  • Never turn your back on the audience to stare at the screen behind you – especially if there’s a confidence monitor right on stage.

Our “interview” was too canned

  • Since this had worked so well before, I decided we would do the same thing for PSFK.
  • In retrospect, this was a bad idea. It was an especially bad idea given the problems outlined above. And I was too rigid and Nicholas and I were too new at this with each other to change direction gracefully and bob and weave our way out of it.
  • Given what I now know about the stage set up, the issues with slides, and the nature of the talks that preceded us, I would have made this an intimate fireside chat about the restaurant startup scene e.g. what was the first thing that put Morgenstern’s on the map, what social media has worked best, what’s been an absolute disaster, who does he turn to for advice etc.
  • Live and learn. Yesterday I felt like a truck ran over me. Today, still disappointed in my myself and despondent about letting so many people down but onwards and upwards.

So that’s my sad tale of the week. Hopefully, by providing learning for some of you, it won’t have been for naught.

Share this post on: