Never do this on the day of a presentation!

Yesterday afternoon I had a four-hour speaking engagement. Most of the session was interactive, but it began with a 45-minute presentation for which I used some slides. Everything had been prepared well in advance, the slides were simple, I knew the material and was ready to go.

Mid-morning, I decided to have one last look at the slides. While doing so, I received a notification from Apple that an upgrade to macOS High Sierra was available. Without giving it much thought, I initiated the download of the software because I knew could still work on other things. However, when the download was complete and a pop-up screen asked if I wanted to install the software, by reflex I clicked the “Install” button. Not a good idea.

The installation took much longer than I expected. And, frustratingly, the indicated time remaining on the screen—20 minutes, for example—frequently stayed stuck on 20 minutes for several minutes. The entire time, I was unable to use my computer.

Uh oh!

It was a dumb thing to do. A rookie mistake that I should not have made. Because I had to drive 60 km to the university, I thought that I was going to have to leave my laptop open in the car so that it could complete the download en route.

I delayed my departure by 15 minutes and, fortunately, the update was completed. But it had created needless stress. And, when I got to Lausanne, roadwork forced me to take a longer detour to the university. I missed those 15 minutes even more!

It was a good reminder of an important lesson:

Never install any major software updates (e.g., operating system, PowerPoint, Keynote) on the day of a presentation.

It’s not worth the risk. Only install such updates when you have plenty of time before your next presentation so that you can make sure that everything is working properly.

For those who have Macs and are interested, here is a link to an article that lists the time ranges for each step of the macOS High Sierra installation process.


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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2 Responses to Never do this on the day of a presentation!

  1. 🙂 Great reminder. Also (1) back-up data, (2) copy all important cloud (Dropbox for me) files to an external drive (3) do a time-machine backup too, before accepting the update. Specially on the laptop computer.

    Thus far Apple has been superb; but it is only a matter of time before something goes wrong. 🙂

    • John Zimmer says:

      Thanks Rashid. And you’re absolutely right about the back-up. A couple of years ago, my Macbook Pro froze and the entire hard disk was fried. By an incredible stroke of good timing, I had backed everything up just the night before.

      I subsequently read the best article on backing things up. It was only a few hundred words and it was written by an IT specialist. He made it very simple. For important documents, remember 3-2-1: Back up important documents in 3 places, in at least 2 different formats (e.g., cloud and external drive) and with 1 copy outside of the home (in case of fire, theft). Great advice which I follow.

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