Presenting in less-than-optimal surroundings
Awhile ago I was invited to facilitate a session for about 160 people over two days. I flew in the night before, and that first morning discovered that we would be spending our time in a…gymnasium. Set up with… garden furniture (the white plastic kind). Gyms really echo, especially with a sound system. I probably knew that already but it has been awhile since I’ve been to a high school dance.
It can be discouraging when the learning environment is less-than-optimal, but the learning experience is what people are looking for, and it’s their overall experience that really counts and adds value.
Here are a few “Dos” and one “Don’t” when presenting in imperfect environments:
– Less-than-optimal surroundings mean that you are going to be working even harder to keep the group’s energy up. I suggest starting the day with the best coffee that you are capable of finding. For example, this one by twoifbysea bakeshop (see above)
– Tune in to the group. How are they feeling? What do they want to do next? What matters to them? You do this anyway, but do it even more mindfully when you’re in a gym and the air conditioning doesn’t work too well.
– Keep a brisk pace by switching things up every few minutes. In other words, shift the focus away from the physical environment through meaningful activity and involvement.
– Express gratitude that a group of people who have lots of other things to do chose to spend the day with you, and with each-other.
– And finally, never, ever complain about the room (or the furniture). Not to the organizers, not to the group, not even to yourself. It is what it is. Sometimes, that’s just how we roll.