Why I Almost Left the Room While Speaking at Blog World Expo

My Blog World Expo presentation did not go as expected — not at all. Here’s how I handled the unexpected mishap and why so many people loved it.

Pat Presenting at BWELA 2011

I had attempted to record a dual podcast episode and video slideshow of the presentation I did at Blog World Expo to include in this post, but 5 minutes into the recording my voice went hoarse.

I guess I still need a couple of days to recover.

I am, however, happy to write a recap of my speaking experience at BWE in LA last week.

Now—you might be wondering why I would need to re-record my presentation.

The reason is because something unexpected happened during my presentation at BWE, something that on the inside, for a brief moment, made me just want to flee.

Let me tell you the story leading up to it…

Family Time

I arrived in Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon with my wife and son, and Gizmo (our dog) too. We wanted to enjoy some scenery around the city together before the weekend when they would go back home and I would stay to enjoy the rest of the event.

During the next few days we went to LA Live, The Grove, Griffith Park and Santa Monica. We even saw a taping of Extra! at the Grove and saw stars Mario Lopez and Ted Danson there.

At night when my son would fall asleep, I would go down into the lobby of our hotel and work on my presentation. I had finished my slides by Wednesday night and stayed up until 4am that night to begin memorizing my slides. When it got too loud in the lobby I’d bring my laptop into our bathroom and practice there while my family was sleeping in the other room.

I really wanted to knock this presentation out of the park. It was to be my 2nd public speaking experience, one that was 3 times as long (60 minutes vs. 20 minutes at the Financial Bloggers Conference), and come on—it was Blog World Expo! The world’s largest event of its kind.

If you ask anyone who saw me before my presentation on Friday, they’ll tell you that I was extremely nervous. It was a healthy nervous, like one that you get before you do something that you really care about, but yeah—I was nervous.

Crunch Time

Thursday evening my family left LA to head back home and I had planned on staying up until 4am again to run through my presentation at least 6 times, but I had to stop because my voice started to disappear.

Sleep was much needed, so that’s exactly what I did. I prepared 4 different alarms so I could make sure I woke up early enough to practice a few more times.

At 7:45am, the alarm(s) sounded.

I showered, went across the street to grab some oatmeal and a banana at Starbucks, and I came back to continue to run through the slides as much as possible.

At 12:00pm, I headed to the convention center and met up with Corbett Barr, Chris Ducker and a few others for a quick lunch. I couldn’t really eat much (my stomach was full of butterflies), so I took a few bites and just headed to the room where I was speaking.

The room was amazing. It was a large theater which sat about 300 people. Then, I was getting excited as I saw people take their seats, and at 1:44pm Mr. David Risley, the Monetization track leader for BWE, introduced me and I was on.

Oops Time

The presentation started off great! I was so in the zone and I was excited to see people respond to my opening which I had practiced at least 100 times.

As I was going, I was becoming more confident.

“I got this” I said to myself.

Then, the unthinkable happened.

Mid-sentence, I look back and do a “double take” when I see that the slide behind me that was supposed to say “Being Everywhere” instead said  “Bei Everyw”.

Apparently, the font I was using in my keynote presentation was not in the computer I was using. I thought I was able to use my own computer, but I wasn’t allowed to because BWE was recording the slides along with the audio from their own computers.

I totally messed up, and as a result any slides with text on it were messed up too:

Jacked Up Slides

Not good. Not good.

For a split second I thought about yelling, blaming someone else, or just leaving, but I said to myself “screw it—let’s just go on with it”, so I did.

My good friend Cliff Ravenscraft from PodcastAnswerMan.com actually captured the whole thing, from the start of my presentation, to my realization (and my hilarious “double take”)  that the slides were all jacked up and how I handled it.

You can watch it below or click here to see it on Cliff’s site.


I continued with my presentation and poked fun at myself and the slides along the way, which made people laugh. Luckily I had spent so much time memorizing the slides that I didn’t need to rely on them.

Here are some awesome Tweets that were tweeted during this part of the presentation:

Tweets about the slide mishap. The best one is "Can't tell if Pat Flynn is putting us on, or if his slides really are screwed up."

(thanks @gfiremark, @movielawyer, @nichole_kelley & @wickedjava!)

When the presentation ended, it was a huge relief and I was pretty upset at myself for letting that happen.

But—after the presentation was over a long line of people came down to congratulate me and everyone that I spoke to said that the slides were hilarious and actually worked in my favor.

They told me that because of what happened, my presentation was more memorable and they could see that I really knew what I was talking about because I was able to memorize what was on each slide, even though you could only see just a few letters.

A couple of people actually thought I did it on purpose because it was more engaging and entertaining. My response was, “definitely not on purpose”, but I’m really glad it worked out for me.

Two Things I Learned From This Experience:

First, if you’re going to do any type of presentation with slides, make sure they work correctly in the environment you’ll be presenting in.

The issue I had was that I was using an awesome font in my keynote presentation that was downloaded and on my computer, but not on the computer I was presenting on.

Downloaded fonts can be dangerous like that, and actually if you still want to use these non-native fonts on any computer, one really good tip someone told me afterwards was to turn the presentation slides into PDFs, and present those instead.

Secondly, and most importantly, life is going to throw us curveballs sometimes. We can plan and prepare for thing all we want—things like this just happen to us from time to time, for whatever reason.

Expect the unexpected and realize that life is really 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.

Roll with the punches, don’t beat yourself up and work with what you’ve got to work with.

Happy Time!

Thankfully everything went well, and despite what happened everyone who attended seemed to get a lot out of the presentation.

Like I said, I will be recording a version for you to watch on the blog and listen to on the Podcast once my voice recovers.

Not to toot my own horn, but apparently my presentation was the most attended, non-keynote presentation in the entire conference, and I was receiving compliments from people throughout the entire weekend. It was awesome!

Here are some amazing comments from some amazing people on Twitter:

List of encouraging tweets that the presentation content was excellent

(Thanks to @LeoWid—founder of BufferApp!, @JosephPutnam, @therichbrooks, @wickedjava, @vincentng, @meganstrand and everyone else who tweeted and gave a shout out about my presentation!)

After my presentation we had the SPI community meetup at the Yardhouse Restaurant in LA Live across the street and about 20 people came by to celebrate with me.

There are way too many people to thank, but I do want to give a special shoutout to David Risley, the monetization track leader who filled me in at the beginning of the year about submitting a proposal to potentially speak at Blog World Expo this year, and of course to those who attended my presentation, and to the SPI community in whole—thank you all for your support.

BWELA 2011 was an amazing experience and I hope I get the chance to speak at Blog World Expo again.

I’ll have my recording done for you soon, plus some information about what I learned in some of the other presentations too.

Cheers, and all the best to you!

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  • Pat Flynn

    Hi, I’m Pat, founder of SPI and host of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Let’s continue the conversation over in our communities.

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