What Presenters Can Learn from Apple’s Face ID Presentation Blunder

Source: New York Times

On September 12, 2017, Apple gave a remarkable presentation on its upcoming product offerings. We saw new gadgets like the iPhone X, the Apple Watch Series 3, and the brand new features of iOS 11.

We also saw something that wasn’t part of the agenda: a demo feature that didn’t work, live, on stage, and in front of millions of people worldwide.

Even giants have hiccups

Here’s what happened.

The iPhone X just made its debut. It was awesome. Flashy promotional videos and hip music blasted through the Steves Jobs Theater. Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, then took the stage and started to go over all the components that make the iPhone X great.

It was then time to demonstrate a key feature of the iPhone X, Face ID. In a nutshell, Face ID is a new type of biometric authentication technology that will unlock your iPhone X by using infrared and light scans to uniquely identify your face.

I guess it’s sort of like Touch ID, but, you know, for your face.

Source: pocketnow.com

Schiller called on Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Fedrighi to the stage to conduct the live demo.

Sadly, when Fedrighi held the phone in his hand, the demo didn’t go as planned.

The iPhone X didn’t unlock and instead required a passcode to proceed. Check out the video below to see what I mean.

The Repercussions

Things got pretty bad. In fact, some news outlets reported that Apple’s share price took a hard hit.

Apple, obviously, then went to damage control mode. The technology giant claims that the iPhone X did indeed work as intended, simply because “people were handling the device for stage demo ahead of time and didn’t realize Face ID was trying to authenticate their face. After failing a number of times, because they weren’t Craig, the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode.”

What’s this mean for the rest of us?

Make no mistake, whether or not the iPhone X was working as intended or not,  this was a presentation blunder. The reason is pretty straightforward: the presenters had a plan, and things didn’t go according to that plan.

To put it simply, this means things can go wrong at any time, no matter who you are, or how ‘big’ you are in your space.

And you know what? This is something that can happen to any of us during our presentations as well.

I mean, sure, we can prepare for a big presentation for days, weeks, even months. However, there still is a chance of things not going according to plan.

So, the question now is, what do we do then?

Well, my answer to that is pretty straightforward: do exactly what Fedrighi did.

Keep calm and do your presentation

You see, Fedrighi kept his cool. He simply said “let’s go to backup,” wiped his face and then proceeded with the Face ID demo, which did work. He then demonstrated every other feature of the iPhone X without skipping a beat.

Source: gottabemobile.com

It was a pretty great presentation overall.

So, when in doubt, follow the same tactic Fedrighi went with in case things go wrong with your presentation; stay calm, and push through.

Sure, it may seem a bit awkward at first, but once you find your stride, you’ll be able to drive your point home with ease.

I can already hear you asking “well, no, hold on, the damage would already be done in that case, wouldn’t it?”

Yes, it would. However, at that point, you’re faced with two options.

Would you rather (A) stay calm and find a way to get things back on track

Or (B) panic in front your audience, and give them an indication that you have no idea what it is you should be doing.

I mean, just imagine if Fedrighi stood there and went like “Oh f***, this isn’t working! Oh s***, did you guys hear me say that? Sorry, I had no idea the mic was on. Ok, I have no idea what to do. Can we get a tech guy on stage please?”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure things would go from bad to worse from there, wouldn’t you think?

Remember, when things go wrong, you’re in damage control mode. You may not be able to eliminate all the damage, but you would be able to mitigate a lot of it.

Stay calm, and push through.

Yousef "Yoyo" Abu Ghaidah

Yousef "Yoyo" Abu Ghaidah

Yousef "Yoyo" Abu Ghaidah is a PowerPoint ninja that founded Slide Cow, a learning platform for all things PowerPoint, presentations and public speaking. When he's not designing slides or giving presentations, he's on another coffee run.
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