Waltz with respect!
How many times have you prepared for a meeting, an away day, or a conference, and pored over your agenda to create an interesting, thought provoking and upbeat session, whilst studiously ignoring the elephant in the room? Elephants come in many different shapes and sizes. Uncertainty about jobs, roles, departments, entire businesses. Falling share prices, financial meltdowns, media rumours and speculation, looming deadlines, difficult decisions, falling sales, recalled products, reputational disasters, resignations, redundancies, pay freezes, bonus cuts… we could go on but you get the picture. There is not just one elephant out there but herds of them.
So how come we manage to pretend they are not there? Well I guess an elephant is pretty troublesome to deal with, right? And anyway, ignore it for long enough and it should hopefully lumber off in another direction never to be seen again, leaving you to get on with an event which runs exactly as you’ve planned it, wowing your audience with your insight and inspiring them onto better, brighter and bigger things. Don’t delude yourself! Whilst you hold forth, everyone else in the room will be waiting for you to acknowledge there’s something rather large grey, restless and slightly scary that really needs some attention, your attention. As soon as they realise you’ve wimped out (because lets be honest, you have to be a bit brave to send an elephant packing), they don’t listen to a word you are saying. Your wisdom and insight is completely lost on them. They sit there itching for you to get round to Q&A, because of course there is Q&A isn’t there? Right where you planned it, squeezed into the last 10 minutes at the end of the day, and ready to be sacrificed for an overrun!
So, they all wait for the last 10 minutes, which frankly can’t come quickly enough for them. Never mind your superb slides, your amazing anecdotes, your fabulous facts and figures… they cant hear a word of it, they are far too distracted composing those killer questions and accusatory statements, all the while getting more annoyed and irritated that you are running an event which appears to be giving you a great deal of satisfaction but does absolutely nothing to address their issues and concerns. Given the opportunities that abound for elephants to appear, it’s highly likely that at some point in your life, you are going to find at least one elephant in your room. So, how are you going to deal with it? There is only one way – you face it head on and bravely ask it to dance. Yep, we know that it’s kind of counter intuitive when every fibre of your being wants to run as fast as possible in the other direction but trust us we’ve done it and lived to tell the tale.
Here are our survival tips: