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Making an impression (but not in a good way)

Last Wednesday I fell off the stage while giving a presentation.

I was talking about using social media on projects to PMI’s UK Chapter, giving The Presentation With The Mixed Feedback that I also delivered in Washington last year.  The event was hosted in the wonderful Thomson Reuters auditorium, although it was daunting to know that I was using the same podium as the Prime Minister, as the company hosts many important media events there as well.

The stage in the auditorium is free-standing, and it doesn’t reach back to the wall.  I was too short for people to see me over the podium and my open laptop, so I stood to the side of it.  That meant I couldn’t quite see my laptop screen, so every so often I took a step back to remind myself of my notes, displayed via PowerPoint’s Presenter Mode.

But I took one step back too many.

Time froze as I teetered on the edge, losing my balance.  I like to think I descended with the grace of a gazelle.  I didn’t want to land on my backside in a pile of cables, especially given that I was wearing a pencil skirt.  In that split second before I went completely over, I focused on a gap in the equipment lying behind the stage, and aimed there.

“Lovely venue, but there’s a big hole there,” I quipped, as I walked up the stairs at the side of the stage to regain the podium.  “OK, I was talking about the geography of your team…”

I don’t remember reading anything about how to deal with that in my favourite book about public speaking, so I just pretended everything was completely fine, while inside cringing with embarrassment.

At least they will remember me, if not what I was actually talking about. Note to self: next time, take a stool and stand still.

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About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.


  1. Exit_Stage_West says

    10 February, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    My most memorable presentation was to the Paris Chapter of PMI on OPM3 (Project Management Maturity Modelling, delivered in English), and at the end as I was standing at the front of the stage looking out to about 80 PM’s suddenly I started receiving catcalls and boos from the audience….

    I turned around and my screen saver had kicked in, and it basically was displaying a slide show of the England Rugby team, with images from the Six Nations tournament (during which England had recently won in Paris)…… I just smiled and attempted a Gaellic shrug as I moved the mouse to stop the offending images 😀



    • Elizabeth says

      10 February, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      David, I’m planning to go to Paris to visit the PMI Chapter there this year, so thanks for the tip!

  2. Cheryl Harrison says

    9 February, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Oh gosh. Hope you ego was the worst thing that got bruised! I’m always terrified I’m going to do that, haha

  3. Andy Murray says

    9 February, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Elizabeth

    Rod Sowden, MSP Lead Author, fell off a stage at a conference once too. So you are in good company. People will remember you. Rod still gets reminded of it some 3 years lateer!

    best regards


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