There you are, happily contemplating the world as you know it and wham!
your company is being 'merged'. There is much talk about economies of scale and you wonder whether your job will be part of them. Then your boss calls. 'I'm due to make the keynote speech at a major industry conference.
Of course, with this merger on I have to remain in London. All the materials are there and it's a cracking speech - so I'd like you to do it.'
Ian Daly's boss, Michael Bailey, threw him the hospital pass just 24 hours before the SS Oriana was due to sail from Southampton with the 700-strong Catering Forum aboard. No doubt as his blood turned to iced water he weighed up the possibilities: it could be an opportunity to showcase his undoubted talents to potential employers. His stock could have gone up. But, in the event, like the Oriana, it went south. A straw poll of delegates afterwards concluded that he had bombed.
Where did he go wrong? He had inherited a whizz-bang speech complete with music and flashy videos, yet Daly was dull, dull, dull. Near the end of the presentation he said: 'At Compass we are passionate about the food industry' - with all the passion of a funeral director on the verge of bankruptcy. His problem? He was trying to do someone else's speech.
Only skilled actors can pull that off. When the call came he should have taken it over and made it his own.
Key moment: In the US, fast-food joints are struggling for staff: 24-hour opening has been replaced by 12- to 15-hour opening. It'll happen in the UK if the industry doesn't do something radical about pay and recruitment.
Key lesson: Own the presentation. If the boss lands you in it, take the time to make it really yours.
Silver tongue or foot in mouth?