Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Talent Show

I just got back from helping to run our company’s first-ever Talent Show, and I am bushed. (Note: The insanely late hour is due to the fact that I'm on funky west coast time, so it's not quite as bad as it seems.) I spent the whole day beforehand in deep discussions with people about company history and internal improvements – as is befitting for a company retreat, I suppose – but the evening was dedicated to burritos, margaritas (yay!), and some talent, or something resembling it. I became the default A/V girl, which is almost laughable when you think about my inability to program our VCR, and I did a lot of running around to find outlets, set up our projector, and display a presentation of slides during the dinner hour. But you should have seen those slides…

As a member of the planning committee, my main duty was to assemble a slideshow of company photos and trivia questions to be shown while people mixed and mingled, kind of like those pre-movie preview shows that ask which movie is the source of some obvious line. Our team collectively came up with the questions (and answers, thank goodness), while I compiled photos and put together the pièce de résistance of PowerPoint presentations, if I do say so myself. It probably took me over 8 hours to put the whole thing together over the weekend, but this bad boy is 150 slides of photo nostalgia, fabulous trivia, and superbly obnoxious animation. You heard right – I said animation, folks.

I finally had an excuse to use the Pandora's box of ridiculous entrance and exit animation effects that Microsoft released into the unsuspecting world. I am almost always dead set against any type of animation, unless it is a subtle entrance that will prevent the audience from reading a whole slide while you’re trying to talk through your first bullet. In that case, I will concede that it is in good taste to have a gentle fade or a slow fly in. I believe that these effects generally serve to induce headaches and irritability during excessively long presentations, and heaven help us if there are sound effects.

This show was a different story! I got to find out with the Bounce and Spiral In and Light Speed effects all accomplished, and I think it’s safe to conclude that none of those should ever be used in an actual corporate setting. I’m glad to say, though, that kitsch was the name of the game in this situation, and the ridiculous effects only added to the cheap movie feel of the whole thing. I did refrain from anything involving sound because, come on, you have to draw the line somewhere. Photos bounced in, birthday stats spun until they reached their destinations, and trivia flashed in and out, much to everyone’s amusement. I have to say that my proudest achievement was creating word scrambles out of a few people’s names; for example, "Tom Garrison" became "Starring Moo"! Yes, I am that nerdy (or cool!), and hello, Scrabble is one of my favorite games ever, thank you for asking. So of course, these word scrambles required an even more tacky effect, and I called upon the Faded Swivel, a letter-by-letter flip that made the scramble vanish as the solution appeared. It was a thing of beauty.

So when I say that we had a talent show, I do mean that we had a series of acts, like an a capella quartet and several strange skits. Really, though, outside of my old standard act of doing a human trick, this PowerPoint presentation actually was my talent. I know that it’s a little sad, but I’m darn proud of it.

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