Jane Anderson Blog | Be Prepared!
Be prepared, work hard, and hope for a little luck. Recognize that the harder you work and the better prepared you are, the more luck you might have.– Ed Bradley
I recently delivered a keynote at a conference with close to 1000 delegates in attendance. I had submitted my presentation two weeks early as they needed to brand the slides themselves. I had rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. I was completely pumped and ready to deliver my awesome presentation.
I arrived early and introduced myself to the AV guy set up at the back of the room and I noticed the computer in front of him, and on the screen I saw what looked like my presentation…. but it looked totally different. I asked if it was mine, to which he replied ‘yes’ so I asked if I could take a quick look. As I flicked through the slides I noticed it was not what I had supplied. There were totally new graphics, missing content and new content added in that I had never seen before. Before I could say OMG delegates were starting to ascend into the room to take their seats. Thankfully I noticed many of them were slightly……well a lot hungover from the night before, so all I had to do was remain calm and not to panic.
I asked if I could rearrange the slides, and was told a flat ‘no’. So I asked if I could get a whiteboard, they managed to find me one behind the stage. Always being being prepared I had markers in my handbag…. as only a trainer would!
The AV guy then handed me the remote to move the slides. He said there was a catch though…. you can only click forwards and not backwards.
Now this was very unusual. I’ve never heard of this before so I asked what do I need to do if I need to click backwards? He said “you won’t need to, you’ll be fine”. To which I said “Ok, but in case I need to what do I do?” he said “Just let me know and I’ll do it for you.” At this point in time it was time to be very concerned, it was my reputation on the line. So I asked “how does that work, it doesn’t look very professional. Are there any other options?” to which he said “no, sorry”. So my only options were to just breathe….inhale, exhale. I told myself I know my content, everything will be fine.
So, I began with a story….. and half way through the story, the slides started flicking over by themselves, Of course I couldn’t click back, so I finished my story and then asked the AV guy to click back for me. I then went on to my next point and the slides started to move again before I’d had a chance to finish. Again I couldn’t click backwards so I was trying to remember my point, finish what I was saying, think how many slides I’d have to go back and make the link to the next story. At this point I started to get concerned. I was frustrated as I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong but with all those sets of eyes watching I had to take control so I apologised for the slides and decided to walk across the stage and share my next story.
Then as I was walking across the stage the heel of my shoe got stuck in the stage so I had to stop and try and pull it out. At this point I started to laugh, it was getting more funny by the minute and the audience was laughing but at the same time it was one of those moments where I just wanted the world to swallow me up and for the nightmare to be over. I felt like my reputation had gone out the window, I’d made a complete mess and I was almost at the point of no return. I thought there was no way the client will ask me back… or even pay the invoice!
As I finished the presentation and walked off stage the event manager came running up to me and said ” I’m so sorry but what we didn’t realise was that your remote was connected to the speaker in the event next door and his to yours, that’s why the slides were moving so much. Wow, you did so well to recover! We’re definitely getting you back next year!”
I cannot describe the sense of relief! Here I was thinking I was failing terribly, but in the eyes of the event manager I managed to deliver and stick to the “show must go on”.
It reminded me about preparing for Job Interviews and how well we need to prepare. On average I rehearse about 25 hours before a new keynote. Many think as a professional speaker we just speak off the cuff, but it’s timed, rehearsed and tested long before it lands on stage as we know there is only one chance at a first impression which affects your personal brand. We also need to be able to survive the pressure test- the case when it doesn’t go to plan… which is almost always! The same is for Job Interviews…. knowing your content and being well prepared means you can survive the pressure tests that can come before you ‘walk on stage’. You might get a flat tyre, get lost, there might be a fire drill in the middle of the interview… who knows what can happen! You need to be able to manage and control yourself in a high pressure situation and it can be your greatest opportunity to get hired. In fact some interviews deliberately stage events like these to see what you do.
So my top 4 tips for preparing your Personal Brand for Job Interviews are:
1. Know the job description inside out and back to front. You need to be so familiar with what they’re looking for before going into the interview. Call the panel chair beforehand, do all the research possible before walking into that room!
2. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Practice the top 5 interview questions and your behavioural questions 5 times out loud so you can build strong enough neural pathways to survive the pressure test. This will allow you to take control when/if something happens that you couldn’t foresee.
3. Follow up and thank the panel chair. Trust me, no-one does it and it’s a great way to show your manners and professionalism as well as another touch point to connect with the authentic you.
4. Laugh at yourself. We’re not all perfect and people don’t expect us to be. Think of Jennifer Hawkins when she walked down the catwalk and her Bora Couture skirt fell off. She laughed and said “Gee I wish I’d had better undies on other than my Bonds.” Ok we don’t all look like Jennifer Hawkins but it can break the ice and create an opportunity to see the real you in action!
Love to know your thoughts…
As a Personal Branding Expert with more than 10 years of experience as a Speaker, Facilitator, Mentor and Coach, Jane Anderson has worked with thousands of professionals and executives make decisions about their careers using personal branding, interview techniques, image coaching and career counselling. She is essentially a people marketer and helps people to sell themselves.
Jane is one of two accredited Master Career Directors in Australia, 360 Reach Brand Strategist, Professional Certified Executive Coach and a Certified Employment Interview Consultant . Her work has been featured in Australia’s only book on Coaching “Bring Out Their Best” By Natalie Ashdown. She holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) and Diploma of Workplace and Business Coaching.
She has also been featured in Management Today, Brisbane Business News, Marie Claire and as the “Job Whisperer” on Today Tonight.
To inquire about Jane speaking at your next event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.