Michael Bay's Cringe-Worthy On-Stage Meltdown Inspires Lessons in Public Speaking

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Michael Bay's Cringe-Worthy On-Stage Meltdown Inspires Lessons in Public Speaking

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This video is truly difficult to watch. I always get nervous for live performers and speakers and it's tough to see a failure of this magnitude, especially from someone who should be used to being in front of an audience. This video was taken during Samsung CES 2014. The annual event is where Samsung reveals the latest and greatest of products and concepts they're working on and releasing out to the public.

Bay was supposed to come on stage and hype the new Samsung Ultra-HD TV line, especially Samsung's monster 110-inch model. He was supposed to describe why the design presents a viewing experience that's far superior to the television you already own, and why his movies will look so amazing on these TV's. None of that happened.

See also: Samsung Unveils 110-inch Ultra-HD Television

So what can we take away from this to make sure we never have to go through what Mr. Bay went through during his presentation?

For one, Bay relied too much on technology he assumed would be available to him. He relied on a prompter for his lines, and when that technology failed him, he wasn't able to recover.

One of the first lessons I ever learned (thanks to an amazing professor I had my freshmen year in college) was that technology fails. No matter what you think or even know will be available to you to help you present your materials, there's always a good chance that it may be unusable so you should always have multiple backup plans. In this particular class, teams were responsible for presentations every week. Leading up to the first week students were required to present case-studies, he had used PowerPoint presentations on a laptop connected to a projector during every single lecture. Naturally, everyone came in with PowerPoint presentations on their laptops, only to find there was no cable available to connect laptop to projector. His response, "Yeah, that's broken."

Broken ... right. The end result? Nobody ever came to class again without print-outs of their slides and transparencies for the overhead projector, along with their official PowerPoint presentations. It's a lesson that's saved my butt on more than one occassion.

The biggest mistake Bay made here though, is that he seemed to have no idea what he was really going to talk about. When the prompter failed, he should have been able to wing it enough to get by without issue.

A good presentation isn't made when someone memorizes a speech word-for-word or when they read the lines of the slides they're presenting as they appear on the screen. Presentation materials are supposed to enhance your presentation, not be your presentation, and a good public speaker knows their material well enough that it doesn't sound rehearsed. Sure, some of the best TED talks come from those who have their presentations so well polished that they come off like a pre-recorded TV show. Just remember, TED talks are rigorously timed and often HAVE to be that well rehearsed just to fit in the time alotted. Most of us don't face anything that strict or with that kind of preparation time on a day-to-day basis.

For your own presentations, priority number one is always to just be sure you know your material. After that, make sure you're prepared for any scenario that may present itself. Technology fails, interruptions happen, and you WILL forget scripted lines at some point. As long as you know the material and are prepared with contingencies, you should be able to avoid this happening to you.

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