Home' micenet eMag : micenet August 2016 Contents PRESENTATIONS | IAN WHITWORTH
got a lot of nice emails about the column a
couple of issues ago where my Scouser
designer and I had to declare allegiance to
a football team during a major new
I thought I’d fill you in on another
presentation lesson from the other end of
that project, a three month global branding
odyssey. We had circumnavigated the globe
twice, spending day after day discussing the
challenges of construction industry
professionals. We drank a reasonable
amount of international beer to take the edge
off this massive knowledge overdose.
And every single conversation we had over
the three months started with:
“How was your flight?”
It’s a hard one to answer unless you bust
into a routine about airline food like some bad
club comic. Flights are just not that interesting.
“Good thanks,” we answered a million
times. We had developed an exciting global
brand, and done lots of behind-the-scenes
lobbying between the Australians, Kiwis,
Americans, Chinese and British to get it over
the finish line. All that remained was a final
presentation at the global business partners
meeting in Sydney, a tricky affair. Their global
partnership rules needed 100 per cent
approval of major moves like this. A single
“no” vote could scuttle the ship.
The sheer repetition and relentless travel
had pushed us into a mental twilight zone.
Our eyeballs were rotating like psychedelic
Ian Whitworth learns the perils of distracted pre-presentation banter.
GIVE IT A PLUG
Our flight from Phoenix landed in Sydney at 6:05 AM. The meeting was 10am. You know
those flights where the plane pulls up to the gate and everyone jumps up excitedly, but the
plane’s just slightly in the wrong position, so you have to wait half an hour standing at a weird
angle under the overhead lockers? That happened. So I had a lot of time to examine the back
of the head of the guy standing in front of me.
He was slightly shorter than I am, and had one of those classic old school hair transplants,
the perfectly-spaced plug forest that made him look like a hairbrush. In my brain-fried state, I
became as hypnotised by this spectacle as any toad-licking North Coast stoner. If I rocked
slowly from side to side, you got that same animation effect you get driving past a managed
pine plantation. It was good for a solid 15 minutes of old-fashioned freakshow amusement.
Finally we escaped the plane, cabbed to the meeting, and started setting up our
presentation. One of the client partners had already arrived.
“How was your flight?”
As I absently shuffled the PowerPoint, some part of my brain went: hey, for once I’ve got an
interesting story for that! Like some chat show raconteur, I gave him the full hair plug story, full of
flourishes and witty asides. People are fascinated by stories of male wigs and hair transplants.
They go to the very heart of the male condition, with all its deluded vanity and futile attempts to
stop the march of time.
I stood up from the laptop and finished with:
“So at least I got a story out of the flight, that hardly ever happens, eh?”
“Yeah. (Pause). Of course back when I was 25 I started losing my hair, pretty young for that to
happen, tough time. So I got it done,” he says.
I look at his forehead. And Oh. My. God. Yes, he had the same dolls’ hair plug arrangement,
disguised by it being strangely curlier than the usual do. All the air sucked out of the room.
“Ah yes, I see you did,” I said.
That was the best I had. There was no magic set of words that was going to dig me out of
that dark pit. We both paused and looked out the window in that “let’s both pretend this never
happened” way. He was remarkably civil for the rest of the day, all things considered, and voted
in favour of our proposal.
Lifetime note to self: when someone asks you how the flight was, you say:
“Good thank you.”
And stop it right there, fool. m
Ian Whitworth leads a double life as a co-founder of audio-visual group Scene Change, and principal at
creative marketing agency, A Lizard Drinking. He can be contacted on email – email@example.com.
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