Little did I know I would have the opportunity to practice that mantra at my last presentation. Here I was: the closing keynoter for a major media company. The presentation was going to be live and streamed to six locations throughout the United States. I was speaking at their corporate campus. We checked out all the audio visual components while the group was at lunch. Yes, the embedded music worked on cue and pumped up the room with energy. The slides transitioned perfectly. I opted for the handheld microphone with better sound quality. All systems, GO!
“Please welcome the author of six books and the lover of all things dark chocolate, Eileen McDargh.”
The music that should have jumped in never happened. I asked the audience to imagine Tina Turner singing ‘Simply the Best'. Suddenly the music could be heard albeit faintly. I think up a quick interaction. Then, the remote suddenly decides to be taken over by some NASCAR driver and all the slides starting appearing and disappearing at high rates of speed. AAARGH. What can I do but talk about the aliens that have inhabited the show computer. We march on. Forget the slides. But then, probably two-thirds into the program, the microphone began cutting in and out as I walked across the stage. It took FOUR different mics handed to me in the moment before we found one that worked. And… and being able to roll with whatever happened.
The irony: Karen Hough, author of Be The Best Bad Presenter Ever, and a former member of Chicago’s famed Second City, had addressed the group in the morning on the value of improvisation. Little did I imagine I would became her poster child! Every glitch became a teaching moment about improvisation. Lesson #1: Accept what is given. Lesson #2: Say “Yes and..." Lesson #3: When things don’t work, acknowledge and go on. Karen also said that in her long acting career, she practiced most for improvisation. She practiced flexibility — a hallmark of resiliency.
Flying back to California, I replayed her words. That was what saved me. I had practiced that speech for days. I knew what point flowed to the next. Had I not been prepared, the entire thing could have been horrid. It reinforced what I believe: presilience(TM! is practicing resiliency BEFORE you need it.
PS: I think I am going to take up yoga now. My body needs to become flexible too.