It’s an end of May afternoon in Derby. The modern styled cinema type room is gradually filling up and I’m watching a friend and colleague get more and more nervous.
Somehow this very calm and jovial man is beginning to look red in the face, laugh nervously and has taken off his jacket so that he feels a little bit more relaxed.
His presentation was 18 minutes this morning. Perfect. Then he practiced it again and it was 20 minutes so where the hell did those extra 2 minutes come from?
This is a gig he will be proud of. He’s doing a TEDx talk in Derby.
The room only has about 100 in so far. So why so nervous? He talked to and moved (physically and perhaps emotionally) 400 people in March, but this seems to have got the nerves jangling like a bunch of keys on an unfit security guard chasing a shop lifter.
First on and first done. Is this a blessing or is this the most awkward of places to set the tone for the day? A joke about setting the bar ridiculously low for the rest of the day is nervously talked about. He keeps glancing at that lush red rug everyone’s expected to stand on.
A sudden panic on the presenters clicker. He leaps from his chair like a wobbly legged lamb to look at the piece of plastic that if he’s entirely honest with himself, needed as much explanation as remembering to breathe.
The range in the audience is astonishing. From hipsters who know it’s quite trendy to attend, proud parents coming along to support and the smug experts sat close to the front who have already told their nearest ear hole that it’s a shame they weren’t asked because they have “something groundbreaking and astonishing to talk about”.
And so he’s introduced and immediately it’s the most nervous he’s been. But there’s something else that he doesn’t realise.
Today there is light and shade. There are poignant pauses there are times of comedy and there are incidents of over sensitive clickers. That dam clicker.
That clicker that is so simple and yet is making you more nervous than someone finding out you’re not entirely certain you know what your talking about. That inanimate object that has taken on a life of its own and has decided that those 18 long minutes you’ve practiced for in front of your mirror are now two minutes too long and it wants you to get the hell off that stage earlier by going past your slides just as you’re about to make a really important point.
It’s like it knows. It’s like it senses the adrenalin, the chemicals and the sheer panic in your body and has decided that it must administer a dose of technical medicine on a karmic scale because you’ve chosen to put yourself in the spotlight.
The talk is over and the applause begins and ends with an admittance he couldn’t save ‘Hob Nobs’.
The following speakers all suffer from Clicker Karma. But somehow they’ve learned from the first guy who dared to treat it as an inanimate object. Beans, Planes, Dementia and a city rambling story of rambling stories, by the most excitable person ever, finish the entertaining and thoughtful afternoon.
But that bloody clicker has friends and is determined to undermine the guy with mine craft!
Aha! Says technology. Your best laid plans are about to be destroyed. (Maniacal laugh)
Welcome the scientist that wants to make things simple and engaging to follow. But the science of that clicker and his friends are unexplained. The projector joins in on the act and has decided that after playing a bit part for the first session now wants turn TEDx from Red to Blue. Everything blue.
But the technology is not finished. Now the sound system that has performed beautifully wants to take itself back to the comedy gold days of Norman Collier and cut in and out or not work at all. (Anyone born after 1985 will not get that reference but forgive me.)
It’s thought that if the clicker and the projector want to rebel and tame the humans putting themselves through stress, it’s only fair that a sound system will have the final say.
Twenty minutes on and the system is sorted. Finally man controls the technology we so obviously rely upon. And then my friends we have chemistry, coffee on a bike, purple pounds, technology, nazis, cartoons and a 15 year old boy who showed many a man how to do it properly.
And so it ends. My friend embarrassed because he felt it wasn’t his best. I beg to differ. His was controlled and deliberate. Key messages engaging and memorable. And so the audience told him too.
This is an experience to be proud of.
And to us he will now be known as Mr.TED the ClickerMaster.
Until next time,