I thought of this because there was a 2003 movie called"Lost in Translation", the title of yesterday's post. This movie is about an American actor, played by Bill Murray, coming to Tokyoto film a whisky commercial. I first saw it with my sister and father, and we musthave been the only three who have actually been to Japan, as we were laughing hysterically,while the rest of the audience was utterly confused. If you have never been to Japan, see the movie before you go, then see it again after you get back home.
Ten years earlier, Bill Murray also played the lead role in another movie called"Groundhog day".In the movie, Bill Murray's character is TV newsman "Phil Connors" who travels to a small townwhere they bring out a small groundhog. If the groundhog can see his shadow, it predictsat least six more weeks of winter. If it does not, winter will end sooner. The nextday, Phil wakes up to realize that he is re-living the same day, over and over, like a modern-day Sisyphus or Promethius. Howhe handles himself in this situation, is what makes the movie so memorable.
When I explain what I do for IBM, to people I meet at home and abroad, I get asked the same set of questions.
- Don't you get bored presenting the same presentations?
The fact is, I never give the same presentation twice. Since I focus mostly on visual informationand what I say, versus the words of text on the page, I am able to customize my presentation toeach unique audience. In much the same way that Bill Murray's character managed to do somethingfun and different each day in the movie, despite his situation.
I do pity those presenters who focus entirely on text, turning their back to the audience, and then reading verbatim what is on each page.They should read Seth Godin's Really Bad PowerPointwith advice like "Bullets are for the NRA".
Another problem are presenters who apologize because they did not develop the materials they are presenting. Sorry, bub, you present it, you own it. The only person held accountable fora bad presentation at a conference is the speaker. When I make charts for others, I expect themthem to adjust it to their own speaking styles.
As a speaker, if you inherit materials fromsomeone else, have the courage to change it, or accept the parts you can't change, and have thewisdom to know the difference.
- Don't you get tired of traveling?
At first I thought this was odd. It's like asking "Don't you get tired of doing different things and eating different foodswith different people in a different country every week?" How can anyone grow tired of variety?
As with any question, you have to go inside the mind of the person asking the question.For most people, travel is an ordeal, outside their comfort zone. They are travelingto attend a funeral, family reunion, or a theme park with spouse and kids in tow.If that is the only kind of traveling a person knows, then it is understandablewhy they might ask this question.
- Don't you get annoyed answering the same questions at conferences?
As if this only happens at conferences!
Seriously, it might be the 17th time I've heard the question asked, but might be onlythe first time the person is asking it, and my response may be the crucial "first impression"that sets the stage for later engagements.
In this case, I focus on continuous improvement. What is the best way to answer thisquestion? How could I have answered that better? How could I have phrased the answerso it will be well-remembered? Again, like Bill Murray's character in "Groundhog Day",have fun with it, take advantage of the opportunity for improvement.