Years ago, as a response to people who continuously top other peoples’ stories, we invented an exercise called Bottom This, where you compete to relate your worst job, travel tale, or client.
Recently, we heard a great Bottom This candidate. A colleague, who we’ll call Marjorie was scheduled to deliver a keynote to a large law firm, based on concepts in her recently published book. The talk was out of state, and the law firm’s admin gave Marjorie the wrong address. She managed to arrive just in time to walk on stage, sweating and out of breath. Then Marjorie discovered that the Managing Partner hadn’t signed off on her material, and the modules she delivered were openly criticized by another partner as “not relevant.”
To add to her misery, no microphone was provided, so attendees complained of not being able to hear Marjorie, who (because of a medical condition) could not project. After ten minutes of this torture, audience phones began to buzz-- because of a major storm blowing into the area. Marjorie’s talk was mercifully cut short. But to this day, she feels terrible that she wasn’t able to deliver what attendees wanted or best serve her client.
Don’t let this to happen to you. Always triple-check the location of your hotel and your talk. Have the decision-maker sign off on your content. If you need one, make sure you have a microphone. Think through everything that could go wrong and have a Plan B. Being resilient is essential. Unless the set falls down, you will survive. You may not have good material for a game of Bottom This, but you’ll be much happier.