Magazine article USA TODAY

If Something Can Go Wrong ... (Your Life)

Magazine article USA TODAY

If Something Can Go Wrong ... (Your Life)

Article excerpt

A survey by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing marketing, advertising, creative, and web professionals on a project basis, suggests there's truth to the old saying, "What can go wrong, will go wrong." Two hundred and fifty advertising and marketing executives were asked, "What is the most unusual or embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you or a colleague during a presentation to a client?" Here are some of their responses:

* "I was a little nervous and chewing on the end of a felt pen. When I got up to speak ... the pen had broken and I had ink all over my face. My teeth were black; my mouth was black; I had marker everywhere and didn't realize it!"

* "A colleague of mine leaned back in his chair to look cool and fell right on his back."

The wrong attire can have unfortunate consequences, as these next blunders show:

* "Our account executive had lost a lot of weight, and when he got up to shake hands, his pants fell down."

* "The creative director slid across the table and his belt buckle got stuck and left a big mark in the wood."

* "I was in a meeting and my hosiery fell down. I was mortified and stayed seated until the meeting was over."

* "A woman was presenting in a wraparound skirt and it came undone."

* "Our senior executive's slip fell during a presentation."

Beverages also may lead to trouble. Here are some cases in point:

* "I had just become an account executive and I was nervous about presenting at my first big meeting. Having finished and done a decent job, I took a sip of soda that went down the wrong pipe. I started coughing and spitting all over the client's suit. Then, as I returned to my side of the table, I tripped on the table and fell to the floor."

* "I spilled a freshly made cup of coffee across the boardroom table and it poured onto the client's lap."

Technical glitches like the following were at the root of 30% of the mishaps cited:

* "The computer didn't work; the television didn't work; the backup copies were lost; and we had to handwrite our presentation on a dry-erase board. …

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