I’ll be posting about our trip in general, but today I’m actually going to jump in with a writer-related post.
Our last night in Scotland, we went to a Matchbox Twenty concert in Glasgow (opening act Headway). Here’s a cut of 3 a.m. someone posted on YouTube, if you’re interested.
The concert was great! We had hoped to see one of the Scottish bands we like while we were over there, but they were all touring out of the country. So we saw an American band instead. But after two weeks of hearing American rock and pop bands every time we went into a pub, restaurant, or taxi, it didn’t seem that odd at all.
Anyway, the funniest part of the concert was that the organ broke early on. After a couple of minutes of the crew messing with stuff not being able to fix it, frontman Rob Thomas
improvised a song with the rest of the band jamming along. “I’m just sitting here in Glasgow…with technical difficulties…” Then he said, “You know, when you’re talking about this concert later to friends…let’s just not mention this part, ok?” He took a situation where the crowd could’ve gotten impatient and frustrated and turned it into a problem we shared, just one of life’s curve balls. And he made it funny and exasperating and had everyone rooting for them.
So what does this have to do with life as a children’s writer? I thought this was a good lesson for writers doing school visits. One of my big fears is technical difficulties. In fact, on my two-day visit recently, the remote for the PowerPoint didn’t work. I like planning everything out, but as our presentations get more and more high tech, we’re of course more dependent on the technology. But here are the school visit tips I took away from a technology-challenged concert that still managed to be hugely successful.
When your equipment fails:
laugh about it
make the kids complicit somehow (This’ll be our secret, right? Don’t tell the third graders or they’ll stage a riot in the halls!)
ask the kids for help (“Anybody happen to have an overhead projector on them?”)
mention the school name a lot–remind the kids that you’re here, in person, in their own school, and that’s a cool thing whether the document camera screws up or not
remember that the kids are there to see you, and while they might not be as big of fans of you as they are of Miley Cyrus, they still want you to succeed. They want to be entertained–and that can happen whether your equipment breaks or not
improvise. Have a backup of some kind. Does holding up pictures work as well as your PowerPoint? No. But joke about it and do the best you can. If someone was trying to fix the problem for me, I would meanwhile perhaps make up a bad poem on the spot about never trusting technology. Maybe I’d ask the kids to help me write the poem. If the technology is a lost cause, move on to Plan B. Don’t waste 20 minutes of a 45-minute presentation trying to fix something.
laught about it. I know, that’s a repeat, but it’s important. If you’re totally stressed out about it, the kids will pick that up and think your presentation is a failure. Instead, you want the buzz to be like the Matchbox Twenty buzz, where fans online were talking about the technical difficulties but were amazed and entertained by how well you handled it.
Anybody have any tragic/funny school visit technology stories to share?