Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending TechCrunch Disrupt, a three-day conference here in New York that focused on disruptive technology and media. As part of the event, promising start-ups were given a few minutes to present their ideas on stage to a panel of judges.
On Day Two, a company named art.sy presented their plan to change the way people discover fine art online. One of the judges they presented to was Jason Calacanis, CEO and Founder of Mahalo, a user-powered search engine. During their product demo, art.sy had a problem connecting to their site over the network and they stumbled over showing a key piece of their product.
When the judges shared their feedback, Jason Calacanis has this exchange with art.sy founder Carter Cleveland:
Calacanis: “What you have to do when you do these presentations is you have to channel Steve Jobs. And after he shows you something, he’s like, “Oh, and one more thing, let me show you something…insane.”
Cleveland: “That’s exactly what we did when the internet just like…when the search page stopped working.”
Calacanis: “That’s no excuse. You could have had this demo in tabs and as a screencast and you should have had that as a backup. That’s your f*ckup. You’ve got to be ready for the Internet to get screwed up. You’re at an Internet conference! You have to do better. You should have had it canned so you can switch immediately.”
And for anyone following Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today, you probably know that Steve Jobs had his own network connection problems during his presentation of the new iPhone. As Jobs floundered around, trying to get the wi-fi to cooperate, he seemed to have no backup plan, finally giving up and jumping over to a lame comparison of photo quality in the new version of iPhone (video embedded below).
It was odd to see the usually polished Jobs make such an amateur mistake during a product demonstration. But it further proves the importance of Calacanis’ comments.
There are no excuses for a bad presentation.
Creating a backup plan is a crucial part of being a great speaker. So when you get up in front of a group of people, make sure you’re ready for anything.
One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.