I almost never remember my dreams. This one from last night is an exception:
I was part of a small group of 4-5 people from the Austin ad agency that was my former employer and is a current freelance client. We were driving to Ford, the automaker, to make a presentation. Of course we weren’t going to Ford-Ford; we were going to a small offshoot operation of Ford, with the idea of getting the agency’s foot in the door.
For some reason, I brought along my dog, Lupita, though I didn’t realize that until later.
Just before the presentation was to start, the snot-nosed art director I had been working with (not a real person, but a dream composite) informed me that I was supposed to co-present with him. Immediate panic set in. I didn’t know I was supposed to co-present! I was just the freelancer! But I resolved I would make the best of it.
We thought we’d be presenting to a group similar in size to ours. Wrong! The meeting room was huge, with chairs and tables widely spread all over the place. The Ford people were moving about freely visiting with one another. It turned out that these presentations were like a school assembly for them—a break from work for a little socializing and entertainment. We were the entertainment.
My snot-nosed art director creative partner started presenting. He was getting killed. Completely ignored. It didn’t help that he was talking in a normal tone of voice, which gradually petered out into defeated muttering as he went on. And we were just sitting in the middle of the room, not up on a stage or dais or anything. We didn’t even have a microphone. I resolved that when he passed it over to me, I would be ready to “perform;” I’d leap up out of my chair, use my bellowing speaking voice to be heard, move around working the room, gesture grandly, command attention, really get people to buy in to what we were selling, whatever that was.
Well, I did all that, but I barely commanded anyone’s attention. As I was presenting, working the crowd, gesturing, trying to get folks engaged, I could tell it was futile. We completely misunderstood the audience we were supposed to present to. While I was still talking I realized that the best we could salvage from this day was the opportunity to return and try again, so I was determined to make that happen. I knew that what we really needed to put this over was a big multimedia presentation and a huge sound and projection system that could not be ignored. These people wanted entertainment, so by God, we’d give it to them!
My part of the presentation ended with a whimper and the Ford people took that as their cue to get up and get refreshments and continue socializing. I immediately began working the crowd, meeting people and trying to pull the right strings for a return invitation.
The Ford people were nice and acted like the fact that our presentation had been ignored was no big deal. They seemed satisfied. I explained that we had been expecting a much smaller meeting, and weren’t prepared for an audience full of people who felt free to continue talking and socializing during the presentation. The small group of folks I was talking too nodded sympathetically and replied, in unison, “That’s Ford!” They all laughed heartily at this.
As we were leaving the building, which somehow I hadn’t realized was so enormous, I started rehearsing what I would tell the executive creative director at the agency (my former boss, the only person from my real life in the dream). He would not be happy we blew it. I was angry at the snot-nosed art director for being so poorly prepared and for failing to tell me I was responsible for presenting with him. I decided I was definitely going to throw him under the bus.
Just then we reached the lobby and I saw my dog, Lupita, being doted on by several Ford ladies. I hadn’t realized that I’d brought her there with me, nor that I had just left her loose to roam the halls of Ford during our presentation. But the Ford people were all cool with it. Apparently, lots of people brought their dogs to work and just let them wander wherever. An informal group of Ford ladies kinda looked after the dogs.
I was really relieved to be reunited with my dog, even though I hadn’t realized we’d been separated in the first place. But by then, my colleagues from the ad agency had all left in the car we’d arrived in, and I had to figure out how to get me and my dog a ride back from that far-flung suburban office park.
And the whole time my mind is churning with ideas for how to put the presentation over at our next opportunity. A huge sound system was a definite must.
Then I woke up.