Technical Difficulties: What to Do When Things Don’t Work Out

Thursday, August 29, 2019
My apologies that this didn’t go live this morning. The problem? I failed to read the date correctly. I thought today was the 28th and not the 29th.
The good news? This segues very nicely into my topic. What to do when something doesn’t work out as planned.

Recently, Angela, Ann and I attended a webinar. Or we attempted to attend the webinar. We each paid for it and logged in. The lucky participants, such as myself, had a visual but no sound. The unlucky had neither. As we messaged the organizer, a consistent response came back. “The problem is on your end, follow our instructions.”

About a third of the way through the webinar, they finally admitted that the problem was on their end. I suspect that most everyone had figured it out at that point and it left a very bad impression. Yes, they should have tested things ahead of time. I don’t know why they didn’t but the best thing to do would have been to simply admit the problem.

Interestingly enough, the next day I was scheduled to take part in a webinar on editing your work with Joan Dempsey. Unfortunately she had to have an emergency appendectomy. She sent out an e-mail and posted on Facebook apologizing and rescheduling the event. Admittedly, I wasn’t thrilled that I was zero for two but I appreciated the fact that she let us know as soon as possible. It was the professional thing to do.

Technology is incredibly helpful but it is also incredibly fickle. There are many things that can go wrong and sometimes we are the ones who mess it up. It can be as simple as misreading the calendar (hey, all!) and thus not getting a post up on time. Or it might be forgetting to attach the manuscript to the e-mail you send your editor. I’ve done that one too.

Like Demspey, you may find that you can’t meet a deadline for medical or family reasons. Illness, emergency surgery, accidents and death in the family happen. When I realized that I couldn’t meet a deadline following my mother’s death, I e-mailed my editor and asked for another two weeks. This was for a monthly newsletter so two weeks was a much bigger deal than it would be with a book. But she understood and helped me make it work.

Build a reputation as a professional, meeting deadlines and filling contracts on a regular basis, and this kinds of problems won’t bring you down. After all, we all experience technical difficulties, like corrupted files or wonky wifi, and personal problems. We also make simple mistakes. The key is admitting to yourself that there is a problem and letting everyone impacted know as soon as possible.

Me? I’m going to see if one of the kids can teach me to read a calendar.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins September 23rd, 2019.


Margo Dill said...

This is so timely because for my day job, we just had a webinar the other day and I was hosting it and doing the slides for the presenters. At one point, I was also trying to work the Zoom controls (unmute myself--which now I know I can do with a space bar, but then I didn't) and I accidentally forwarded the slides. And then when I tried to fix that, I forwarded it again, instead of going back! Oops. I got it figured out in about 30 seconds but when it came for my turn to talk again, I said: I'm sorry about the slide problem, but we are back on track now and let us know if there are any questions from that mistake.

So you are so right--people are forgiving IF we admit our mistakes and try to make up for them.

I'm sorry the webinar did not work out. How frustrating!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Tech problems are the worst because I get flustered and then the problems multiply. But, again, if you just face the problem. . .

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