You have a plan…
I was speaking at a high profile event over the weekend. It was Sunday. And Mother’s Day. I was first up. And it was the first time they had run the event. I should have read the warning signs!
So there we are. Me and Ken the tech guy. In the seminar room. With about 50 empty chairs.
But things don’t always go according to plan…
Those empty chairs kept on looking at us. No-one came. So we waited. And we waited some more.
It was time to start. Ken went to check on his other speaker and came back with the ‘good’ news that at least I was there because his other speaker hadn’t even turned up.
I knew it was a bit of a risk being first up but I was hoping for at least a few brave souls to keep me company. To spread my message to. To support. And inspire.
Ah, the explanation…
And then one of the exhibitors stuck his head in to say that no-one was being let in because the health and safety checks hadn’t been completed. That there was a very disgruntled crowd waiting at the barrier.
While it was nice to know that the empty chairs weren’t due to my lack of popularity, I wasn’t exactly in a great situation. I was out of time and the next presenter was on right after me. Not the best situation I could think of for a Sunday morning.
The first guests
Then two lovely, smiling, enthusiastic women came in.
“Have we missed it? Are we too late for the seminar? We really wanted to attend!”
“No,” I replied. “Come on in. We didn’t start yet. We know there’s been a problem and we’re waiting for you.”
But I still had the timing dilemma. My time was up and I could see the next speaker pacing nervously and with a hint of impatience outside the door. And still, we had no advice from the organisers.
So Ken and I went to look at the speaker board.
“Well,” said Ken, “You could shift yourself down to the lunchtime slot? How about that?”
But ‘that’ didn’t seem like a great idea. I had my first two guests. Plus I had plans.
So I took Ken’s sharpie (aka felt tip pen ). I crossed out the speakers’ timings. And re-wrote the schedule.
Yup. Crossed out the old times and wrote in new ones. A unilateral decision to shift everyone back an hour.
The visitors would still get to see all the speakers, in the order they had planned. Just a little later. And with the lunch hour, everyone would catch-up for the afternoon. It just felt like the right thing to do.
Make the best of a not-great situation
And things don’t always go to plan. You have to just go with it. Make the best of it. I was still first up and trying to do the right thing for those lovely ladies who had rushed the crowd to get to my seminar.
Ken looked a little shocked. “I’m not sure I would have done that!” he said.
But what choice did I have?
I could have complained. I could have stood down? I could have tried to find someone else to sort it out? But sometimes you just need to take the lead, make a decision and do what seems like the best thing to do in less than ideal circumstances.
Stick to your guns
So back to the room we went, Ken and I. All wired up with my mike.
And then more people came rushing in. Then more. Until we had a full room. Not everyone was happy about the timing, about being held back at the barrier for an hour. Totally understandable.
So with more apologies I just went for it. Encroaching into the time slot of the next speaker. This audience had come to listen to me and they were going to get the best I had to give them.
Sometimes life’s like that
I know it wasn’t ideal, but life’s like that. You always have a choice when you’re in those situations. And usually you don’t have a lot of time to decide.
Sometimes there’s just no backup plan.
So, what about you? Have you had a similar situation? What did you do?
I’d love you to leave a comment and – if you were at that event in London – then I hope I delivered for you – late or not!