Giving an aviation safety seminar at the airport in Blacksburg, VA tonight. Beautiful town and airport, and a packed house of locals in the house. Big game coming on Thursday, so there were some special activities in and around the town and airport. Before the seminar, we watched the Outback Blimp shoot an approach only to have to circle indefinitely while the ground crew found the airport and prepared the landing spot. After watching for a bit, I forgot about it and started the presentation at the prescribed time.By the time I hit the stage, it was almost dark outside, and the windows at the edge of the building faced west towards the setting sun. About 5 minutes in, I saw a group of about three people gasp and point, and I knew exactly what they had spotted — said non-rigid airship, finally docking some two hours after arriving at the field. It was just a matter of time before everyone saw it, so I managed to play it into the script and stopped everything and invited everyone to watch the blimp. Turns out it skimmed by at treetop level with lights ablaze right down the runway. We probably lost about a minute of presentation, but by stopping and just acknowledging it, we didn’t lose any more than that, and I assume the audience was willing and wanting to see it anyway.When something external threatens to derail a talk, it’s best to just go ahead and get things out in the open for all to see. There is much to gain by acknowledging the issue, and much to lose by trying to ignore it.
Listen to your audience. If they’re tuning in to something else, divert their attention to it so that you maintain control and can redirect it to the proper content at the proper time.