My first garden group presentation sucked

It was a fiasco. I'm totally incompatible with the Greater Rochester Perennial Society. Not only was my MacPro laptop incompatible with the projector (You'd think a bunch of gardeners would use Apples...), but I prepared the presentation in an Apple software - Keynote. It's Apple's version of Powerpoint. Well, between these two issues, I was not able to project the slideshow I'd worked on feverishly for two days onto the screen.

Despite valiant attempts by my Rochester friend, Pat P.,-- with trips to a hardware rental place (closed), a Bestbuy (couldn't help), and an Apple Store (bought an adapting cable, but it didn't work) -- I ended up setting up my laptop on a cart and using that to talk about Garden Walk Buffalo in front of around 50 members of the group. Gardeners tend to be pleasant, generous accommodating and patient souls. Well, except for me.

Once I got going and was able to tell some of the stories of some of the gardens, point out some of the unique gardens of Buffalo and was able to answer some questions, it all went well. Just without the impressive visuals. Most of the photos in the presentation were shot by Don Zinteck and really were of a great quality.

Afterwards, while they were trying to make me feel better about botching up their meeting, they said I did a good job, that I was entertaining, funny and informative. They said they usually have speakers talking about plants with bad photos and that it was good to have someone talk about the plant settings and the other aspects of gardening -- architecture, art and garden design ideas. And even small visuals of great quality were better than big visuals of poor quality.

A handful of attendees had been on the Walk and I think many more will attend this coming year. It's an easy day trip for Rochesterians (about an hour-and-a-half by car). The biggest issue may be their big plant swap, which happens the Sunday of Garden Walk Buffalo this coming year.

I raffled off a Garden Walk book. So I know at least one person in the room was grateful I had attended.

There was a small honorarium, and I would love to come back and do it again for the group at no charge, I feel like they only got to hear me talk, which is not worth the money the attendees spent on gas to get there. At the very least, you'll be able to see the presentation above in video form. Though now you get to see it without the benefit of my off-the-cuff talk, which was apparently entertaining and funny -- if I wasn't lied to.

If only one thing showed me it was a success, it was the three people that came up to me afterwards asking if I knew of any good hotels to stay in for the Walk. My recommendation is always Embassy Suites in the Avant Building. Not only are they a Garden Walk Sponsor, and the hotel that will accommodate the Garden Bloggers during next summer's meet-up, but they have some of the best views of the city, look over some Garden Walk Gardens and are basically across the street from one of our three headquarters during the Walk. Oh, and free internet access, breakfasts and happy hours.

Thank you Laurie B. for inviting me. Lesson learned -- get a hold of my own projector and not be dependent on the hardware generosities of others.


  1. That does sound frustrating. It reminds me of all the hoops I had to jump through to make up a Powerpoint presentation I could use at the Chicago Home & Garden show last March. I also have a Mac, and at the time we didn't have a pc in the house, so I had to email my stuff to my husband's work computer, he had to email the Powerpoint stuff back to me, I worked with it, email it back. After much trial & error, I somehow got it on a USB device. Next time you might want to email your photos to a friend with a pc & work it from that.

  2. One of most annoying things about doing presentations like this is relying on equipment you are not familiar with. I'm finally getting my own laptop for Christmas so I can stop checking them out here at the University and then worrying if they will work, what resolution they are set at, etc. etc. Now I must get a projector next. I hate to hear that you had problems but it sounds like you were a hit.

  3. Um, I would spend money for your gas...

    What a shameless (but effective way) to direct a new audience to your blog. At least you do have a way to show your presentation after all.

  4. I'm sure you weren't lied to :) I think the slide show is great. I actually recognized some of the gardens from ones you've shown on your blog and one from a magazine (the garden on the triangular corner).

  5. I have had the same problems in giving presentations on gardening -I understand your frustrations!

    Garden Thyme with the Creative Gardener

  6. I sat in the first row last night. We all loved your presentation, no lies here. I even called friends who were not there to tell them they missed a great meeting. Please don't feel bad that the computer/projector link didn't work. The store employees lied to us, didn't they, that their product would work. It really did not affect your wonderful, enthusiastic talk. We loved your adorable daughter too. You are a natural speaker; from the heart. Never forget that.

    I need to apologize for my comment on " packs? what are we dogs?"
    It was a poor attempt to be funny.
    I felt comfortable enough with you to say that. My friends there know that I am somewhat of a loose cannon at times.

  7. MrM'sD,
    The world would all get a long better if we all used Macs. Th eprinting industry is based on it, so I'm stuck with it. But after having used PCs, I'd rather be stuck with a Mac. Next time, I'll have the presentation done in Powerpoint, Quicktime, h--def, low-def, FORTRAN and BASIC.

    I was just about to start doing shadow puppets interpreting garden design when my friend Pat, from the back of the room yelled out to just set up the laptop on the cart. She could tell I was looking for the visual cues I needed to be coherent. Technology sucks, except when it's amazing.

    Shameless? Gassy? What must you think of me. See you Saturday for dinner.

    Don't tell anyone, but many of those photos are four years old. Some of those gardens don't even look like that anymore!

    Thanks. If anything, I'll be more prepared next time.

    I didn't see who said that but I heard it! I was afraid I had offended suburban ladies! No intent to disparage - they're my chief demographic. If you're a loose cannon, you are one of my people. Glad you liked what you heard, and what little you saw. Natural speaker though? I guess so, I've been speaking since I was a toddler...

  8. It turned out well, obviously. They loved you.

    I agree with their comment about it being good to have someone talk about the plant settings and the other aspects of gardening. Unless one is totally not knowledgable about plants, macros of hydrangea blossoms and daffodil blooms are rather boring, like viewing a nursery catalog. Most of us know plants, we want to see how they are combined and used in the garden. If an unknown turns up, be sure we'll look it up later.

  9. Nell Jean,
    I'm really not part of any gardening groups per se. Garden Walk Buffalo really is a festival-type, two day event. We spend more time talking about sponsorships, buses, t-shirt sales and websites than we do about plants or gardens. I've not attended too many garden seminars/speakers. I'm not so much a plant geek myself. But I can look at garden design photos for hours.

  10. I can't wait to see the gardens in person~~your slide show was wonderful.

    so sorry you feel bad about your talk~I hope you can soon let it go and trust that you are indeed a good speaker.

  11. As a firmware design engineer, my hubby has a raw disdain for Microsoft and its plethora of bugs and incompatiblity with so many non-Microsoft applications.

    I'm sure I would have preferred smaller but better photos as well.

    Sounds like it's a lesson learned.

  12. Gail,
    I may have made it seem as though it was worse than it was. I get the drama gene from my daughter. I did have a good time. Interacting with the group a bit, answering questions and hearing a few "ahhs" and laughter helped. Elizabeth and I are looking forward to showing off some of these gardens to you.

    Microsoft designs the most horrible, unfriendly, non-intuitive softwares man has ever invented. It never ceases to amaze me how ubiquitous their poorly-designed softwares are. That's my rant for the day...

  13. I have to deal with cross-platform issues and getting laptops and lcds to play nicely together almost daily. A simple way to make sure all is not lost when trying to use a .ppt from a Mac on a PC is to export a .pdf version as a backup.

    Most of the issues I've seen with Mac ppts not working well when played on PCs have had to do with the image format. Insert .jpgs and you shouldn't have problems.

  14. I'm sure it was much more appreciated and better than you think! We are Mac users, too. I switched from a PC to a Mac last Christmas. So, I see your post as a heads-up for those of us who get out in the public to speak! Thanks!


  15. J, You and my hubby should get together and share a rant session!! I wanted to say that I laughed out loud over your comment on my blog: "I always make sure my semi-tender wears protection..." Too funny!

  16. I can imagine how frustrated you were. I gave a talk at a nursery this summer and had to use my laptop as well. Luckily it has a wide screen and there weren't that many folks so they could see it. But it's not the same. It does sound like you gave a successful talk though. And your slides, wow do they make Garden Walk look irresistible! I really do hope I can make the Garden Blogger meeting!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts