Yesterday, we had clients in our office for a quarterly meeting -- and it was one of those bad technology days.
First, the wireless in our office crashed never to be heard from again. Then, we couldn't get the high definition plasma television to show the presentation. We did the few minutes of scrambling, plugging things in different places, rebooting computers, a few of us prayed, there was nervous sweating, the "umms" and the "Did you see we brought in breakfast in the kitchen?"
Pretty quickly though(it was only a few minutes, but it felt like eternity) we realized we had to give up, we had to get the meeting started, we asked everyone to take out their printed copies (thank god for Ross who always binds our presentations too) and flip to page one.
I won't speak for our client (of course our technology should be functioning), but it was one of the most productive client meetings I've ever had. When I no longer had sole control of how things progressed, no slide clicker, no way to make the last idea disappear - it became what it should always be -- a conversation. We talked until there was consensus to move forward. Sometimes we moved things along, "if you look on the next slide, you'll see the next steps" and sometimes our client made the choice for us, "can we move ahead for now."
All too often, we have meetings where we slickly jump from topic to topic all heading for that "TA DA!" moment (where the woman is cut in half, or the statue of liberty has disappeared) -- and nervously we wait to see a reaction.