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About 20 women from the networking group Santa Barbara Female Entrepreneurs met last night at an empty house in Montecito. Our group leader, a real estate agent, is selling the house, so there was a little furniture and some knickknacks, but no one is living there. It was a perfect spot for some wine, appetizers and mingling, and my PowerPoint "twittorial," an overview of how to use Twitter.
I had already started off with a glitch; my remote wouldn't move the slides, even though I had already tested it, put in fresh batteries and knew it was working. It took a few seconds to figure out the problem, but then I forged ahead, thinking that would be my only setback.
About halfway through the presentation, the lights flickered and went out. A windstorm had blown up and some people had seen a flash, like a transformer exploding. The lights came on again briefly, and then went dark for good. Immediately, cell phones lit up and by the electronic glow, we pondered what to do.
The data projector had shut down, but my computer was still on battery power, so people gamely suggested we gather around it and continue on. Jennifer Bragg, our fearless leader, went searching through the house and found a lantern. Her mom, who lives nearby, showed up with two more.
Meanwhile, I picked up where I left off and continued the presentation, with the whole group gathered in a semicircle around the computer screen. And what a great group! They were engaged, they asked questions, they contributed Twitter tips, and all the while sitting and standing in the dark. There was not a moment of panic or stress among the group. Can you imagine how these entrepreneurs run their businesses? Nerves of steel, I tell you. Getting things done no matter what.
It takes a lot to rattle me during a presentation, and this was merely a mild inconvenience. I find, in fact, that when something goes dramatically wrong in a presentation, it causes the audience to gather round and bond with each other and the speaker while everyone looks for solutions. Just like in the real world when there's a natural disaster or other major incident.
And my husband made a good point last night as we talked about it after the fact. Some situations are just out of your control. So why let it stress you out? Do the best you can with what you have and see where the situation takes you.
I found our lights-out adventure added some fun and spice to the presentation. And when the presentation was over, the lights came back on, so we were able to continue our networking and wine-drinking. All in all, a successful event! Thanks to the great women who didn't blink an eye.
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