In 2014 Michael Bay was invited to CES2014, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Samsung was launching a new TV and had summoned the famous Hollywood director to endorse the product on stage. As usual, such marketing is intended to benefit both parties. A director endorses a new TV for a company and in exchange gets to show clips of his new movie on the TV to promote them. Everyone is a winner. Except that in this instance things didn’t quite go according to the plan.
The launch event was broadcasted live and Michael Bay was interviewed on stage. He was asked a few simple questions, all based on what was planned and presumably rehearsed before.
Perhaps it is best if you see the video of the event for yourself to see what happened on stage when Michael Bay started to answer the questions.
It was a classic case of an anxiety attack for public speaking. Naturally, Bay must have felt quite bad while going through the experience. Within minutes, the video had gone viral and later the main stream media picked it up to further spread the embarrassing news. In fact, just after the event, Michael Bay wrote the following on his blog:
“Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES - I was about to speak for Samsung for this awesome Curved 105-inch UHD TV. I rarely lend my name to any products, but this one is just stellar. I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down - then I walked off. I guess live shows aren't my thing.”
Real events such as this are a great opportunity to learn more about public speaking. The purpose of this exercise is to show how destructive thoughts can completely paralyse a person in certain situations and how using constructive thoughts can help getting through the experience and learn from it.
Show the video to delegates and brief them. Next, get them to think of destructive and constructive thoughts.
What You Need
- A whiteboard to write two lists on. You can also use flipcharts if you wish though you may need use two side by side as you may have a lot to write that may not fit on one sheet.
- Explain to the delegates that you are going to show them an interesting video.
- Show the video of Michael Bay at the product lunch of Samsung TV in CES 2014.
- Expect laughter, shock and amusement as well as sympathy and a complex emotional response. Most people are initially amused but then feel sorry for Bay because the fear of public speaking is universally understood. Many people share the same fear and can immediately understand what he has gone through.
- When you have shown the video ask the following, “What would be the destructive thoughts that could go through Michael Bay’s mind at this point after having gone through this experience?”
- Quickly draw a vertical line in the middle of the whiteboard. On the left write the following title, “Destructive Thoughts”.
- As the group suggests these destructive thoughts, write them in the left column on the whiteboard.
- Expect suggestions until delegates cannot think of any more.
- Use the following list of destructive thoughts to inspire them for more ideas [Could not help to go through this without the jokes of course!]:
- I will never do a live show again.
- I cannot give a speech without teleprompters
- I hate public speaking
- I will never promote a product like this again
- I will fire my agent for suggesting this stupid marketing ploy
- Samsung will never want me to be near their products again
- I just made a fool of myself in front of millions. No one is ever going to see my movies again [Those familiar with Bay’s movies are thinking, “Losing the audience has nothing to do with your public speaking skills!!”]
- I would never do another “live” anything, whether it is an interview, product launch, event or whatever.
- Ask the delegates what happens if Michael Bay holds such thoughts well into the future. How would it impact his public relations or his work? Guide the discussions towards the consequences of such destructive thoughts.
- Allow a lively discussion for about 5 minutes.
- Now that you have established the consequences of such negative thoughts, ask delegates the following: “Can you replace these negative thoughts with constructive thoughts so that the experience would help the person grow?”
- As delegates suggest these thoughts write them in the right column on the whiteboard.
- Consider the following ideas for constructive thoughts as you go through the discussions:
- There is no such thing as bad PR. I didn’t intend to but, I must have generated an enormous amount of publicity for the Samsung TV. Everyone will be talking about my mishap, so Samsung cannot be that mad about it.
- I should learn from this experience to become a better public speaker
- I have already paid for my training by going through this experience. I should not avoid public speaking or I would not be capitalising on so many lessons that could be learned from this experience
- I’ve learned that I should not rely on a single piece of technology when consequences of failure can be quite dramatic
- I should not assume that everything always works and should always have a backup plan
- I should rehearse and be prepare beyond what I am expected to do, say or deliver
- I should practice public speaking with friends and family by simulating all possible sources of failure so I can develop a pattern of responses. If I have covered the unlikeliest possibilities and prepared an appropriate response, I would never feel afraid again of anything that can go wrong.
- Continue with another discussion on these constructive thoughts and compare them with the destructive thoughts identified earlier. Ask the delegates to suggest if they have had a similar experience in the past? If so, ask volunteers to share them with the class and then analyse it in a similar way by comparing destructive and constructive thoughts.
- Follow with final discussions.
Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes
Activity: 5 min initial reaction + 5 min suggesting destructive thoughts + 5 min discussions + 5 min suggesting constructive thoughts + 5 min discussions + 10 min other experiences = 35 minutes
Group Feedback: 10 minutes
What is the most important lesson you have learned while analysing Mr Bay’s experience? What do you think of the power of positive thinking? What do you think of the power of negative thinking? Is it easy to end up with destructive thoughts following a negative experience? What would you have done if you were in Michael Bay’s position?