#91 – The Improv King

I feel pretty good about the short lecture I gave today. Though I probably scored an “E” for technology use, I think the “A” I deserve for improvisation more than makes up for the lack.

Our county bar association has a speaker at every monthly luncheon, and I agreed to fill in with a short presentation on litigation organization at today’s meeting. I expected to use my own LCD projector to play the PowerPoint presentation I’d cobbled together. But when I tested the machine yesterday, the bulb blew out. Fortunately, my friend Jimmy owns a projector and graciously lent it.

Jimmy assured me any idiot could operate the simple device, and owning one myself I didn’t expect any difficulties. Except I’d never stored files on my projector’s internal hard drive; and I didn’t know how to select between internally stored files and ones contained on an external zip drive. Jimmy apparently had stored at least one item in his machine, and it (rather than the contents of my zip drive) began playing when I queued up the first slide at my lecture.

No one was more surprised than me to see a photo of an open fishing tackle-box, instead of the bullet points on the topics I planned to cover. Though I couldn’t fathom how it’d mixed with my slides, I knew my tenuous hold over the audience’s attention wouldn’t abide any pauses to work out kinks in the presentation. So I improvised, telling my listeners that “the evidence for a lawsuit is like a tackle-box; if it’s not organized properly, a lawyer will never land the big verdict.”

Ignoring the blank stares from some audience members, I moved on to the next slide – one depicting a fishing rod and reel. That’s when I realized I’d inexplicably keyed up the photos from Jimmy’s recent fishing trip (the one I’d declined to attend), instead of my litigation organization panels. Nonetheless I pressed on, illustrating evidence gathering and categorization issues using the rod and reel picture, as well as ensuing photos of a) Jimmy’s friend casting his line from their motor boat, b) Jimmy wrangling in a large fish with his net, and c) an open cooler containing the day’s haul. I even equated a shot of Jimmy chugging a beer to the perils of rushing ahead in discovery without proper case organization. And guess what? In the end, my inadvertent, spontaneous pairing of fishing photos and lawsuit systematization proved a lot more entertaining than the lecture I’d planned.

Jimmy laughed hard enough to pass a kidney stone when I told him what happened. In contrast, I didn’t chuckle so much as breath a huge sigh of relief when he showed me how fortunate I was … that the fishing trip photos had played instead of the other file he’d stored on the projector’s internal memory. I would’ve been hard-pressed to conjure an acceptable case organization analogy from pictures of a wild bachelor party, especially ones featuring a pair of lesbian strippers performing eye-opening acts of “sisterly love.”

Not exactly what I’d had in mind for case organization

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