I like alliteration! And I could think of no other way of describing what I wanted to talk about today.
Last weekend we were privileged to be invited to attend a unique and high energy network event. Trischel was one of the sponsors, and as such we were given the opportunity to highlight our company and what we did. There were a number of other sponsors given the same opportunity.
Now, you know how insistent we are about prior preparation and practice – which prevents puerile and poor performances. So given the fact that the event was in another State capital, and that we were speaking to over 400 people you can bet your bottom dollar that we prepared and practiced until we were as perfect as we could be.
And so, with a sense of readiness we boarded the aircraft and set out.
At the event we noticed that it wasn’t quite as expected! Most networking events are – well not exactly staid – but, focused on the art of making contacts and creating alliances. There is (dare I say it) an air of quiet assurance, where polite attention is paid to everything that was said. It is here that prior preparation and all that really pays off.
Not this place! This joint was jumping; high octane energy was evident from the moment you walked in. Lights; music; cameras – all were highly visible, and within minutes of entered the room the heart beat was increasing.
From the moment the formal events started we danced! And I mean that! We DANCED!! Up to the tables, grabbing a partner and plunging onto a dance floor reminiscent of the eighties disco divas!! Wow!! What a blast (as we said back then)
The audience was charged up, to shimmy and shop! And the energy did not wane during the whole night. The music got us going and my shame was that not only did I know the songs – I also knew all the words (my children will not admit to knowing me, now that I’ve confessed that in public!).
It was fantastic; but it was also creating some problems.
Not all the sponsors were familiar with speaking in public, and certainly not to such a highly charged audience. They had prepared carefully, with information about who they were and what they did. In many instances their nerves shone through; and sheer sympathy kept my attention. I know how difficult it can be to get up and speak in front in such a large audience; and so fellow feeling kept me attentive – to begin with.
The problem lay in an audience that was charged up and ready to go. They were intent on eating, drinking and talking; they wanted to be entertained not lectured to – and guess what our carefully prepared presentation was all about? Information!!
After the first round of presentations, as the audience got more and more restless, Trish and I looked at each other and decided that drastic measures were needed. So we threw out our carefully prepared approach and decided that we needed something far more dramatic – so that’s what we gave them. Not so much a presentation but a stage act! It certainly got their attention and they remained silent for the most of the other presenters after us.
Musing on the outcomes as we wended our tired way back to our hotel; we decided that what we had done (and the other presenters we feel) was to make assumptions about the nature of the audience.
We did ask about who they would be, what they were hoping to achieve and all those kind of things. And we had duly created a presentation which was designed to appeal to that kind of audience.
What we had not done was to find out the type of event that was planned. And going back over all the literature we received it was, in hindsight, quite obvious that this was going to be quite a different kettle of fish from what we had been used to.
Luckily, we are seasoned enough to be able to throw out our prepared presentation and to create (almost on the spot) and completely different approach. But not everyone on the night was so lucky.
Mind you, regardless of the noise, the excitement, and the high energy, the audience was always friendly. I have known an audience or two who were all those things and unfriendly to boot – the results were a chastening experience for me!
So our meditations led us to realise that sometimes we need to prepare for the unexpected; and that our concept of who our audience really is can sometimes lead us astray. If that happens we can be in trouble if we do not have the courage and the confidence to adapt.
Unfortunately, that can only come with experience and flexibility. Not everyone who addressed that event had those things; and I doubt very much if Trish and I would have been quite so ready to toss everything away and start again two minutes before we were due to speak earlier in our career.
However, confidence comes from experience, and every experience comes with an inbuilt teaching point; and even we at Trischel learned a lesson that night.
It was fantastic fun; frightfully well organised; fabulously energised and needed flexibility to create opportunity for future fortune.
Michele @ Trischel