About four years ago while giving a keynote presentation about leading “the Facebook generation” in the workplace, disaster struck. I was about mid-way through the speech, talking about new models for employee benefit plans, when the following popped up on the screen — in front of 2,200 people:


That might look like a three-inch wide JPG on your screen right now, but imagine that about two-feet wide and a foot tall. Because that’s what it was in front of the audience.

Clearly, I’d forgotten to turn my instant messenger app off and I got hit by a roaming spambot. Along with 2,200 unsuspecting nice human resources executives.

It taught me two lessons:

  1. Never authorize a friend request from suziewhore83; and,
  2. Turn off all TSRs (IM apps, applets, online backups, email notifiers, etc.)

The only thing you want running when you’re giving a presentation is your presentation software. Nothing else.

Remembering to Shut Them Down

The hard part is remembering to shut all the apps, applets, and widgets down before you press Play on your presentation. That’s why I use the same first slide on all my decks. Here it is:


The slide is never shown to people in the audience. It’s just there to remind me to turn everything off. (A “TSR” is a throwback to DOS days — it refers to any program which launches, then hides, but stays in memory doing things or stays ready to become active at any time.)

Force Quit: Make Sure Everything Is Closed

Don’t just assume that because your Windows Taskbar or Mac Dock is clear of other running applications you’re ready to go. Those TSRs hide everywhere, and often invisibly. Here’s how to make sure everything is closed.

On a Mac, quit all the applications in the dock. (You won’t be able to quit the first icon called “Finder.” That’s okay.) Now, press Command-Option-Escape. A list of applications will appear. It will look something like this:


If you’ve done it right, there shouldn’t be many (if any) applications in the list. If there are, go to that application, save everything, and try to close it. If it won’t close, highlight its name in this dialog box and press “Force Quit.” (This is similar to the Ctrl-Alt-Del method to force Windows applications to quit.) If you’ve done this and things still pop up during your presentation, launch Activity Monitor and force-quit the offender from that program.

On Windows, right-click on the Taskbar and select Task Manager. You’ll get something that looks like this:


As with the Mac example, select the program that you want to quit, then click the End Task button.