I was giving a presentation recently and after the first hour (about 1/3 of the way into it), upon taking a break, a leader of the organization I was speaking to came up to me and told me that I was not delivering the session in the way that I needed to, and that we needed to change it up or we’d lose many attendees.
It happened to be the last session of a 2-1/2 day conference, so we were going to lose many people anyway – however, I knew that my choices were limited: change or die. I opted to discard the use of the rest of my PowerPoint slides and change direction with more interactivity to pull attendees in and get them involved.
Fortunately it worked in that we had a very engaged session and value was shared by nearly all, to nearly all. I say “nearly” becuase there seemed to be a couple of arm-crossed holdouts, which can happen. Typically if they are sales professionals, they come around and by the end of my sessions, usually interact and share their ideas.
This group was not a group of salespeople. I did a pre-session assesssment with the attendees, and tailored the presentation to what those who responded wanted out of the session – and I also talked with the event coordinator, who hired me, about what they really wanted. Ultimately, content was OK, but it was the pace and approach of the delivery that was not going well.
Because I was willing to not be defensive and able to just switch tracks mid-journey, I believe we got through it well. I re-learned a great lesson, too – to ask more questions up front, and ask more than one person for input. This would certainly have helped me to offer more value the whole session, not just after we tweaked it.
How flexible and adaptable are you? Think about that for a couple of days, and find examples to prove your comments.