The program culminated with a showcase, Hell Yeah X – we each had 7 minutes on stage to show off what we’d learned in our six months with these two experts. It was our moment to shine. And my moment was a mess!
I’d barely taken the stage when the headset mic started falling off my left ear. The brilliant event expert Bari Baumgardner rushed to the rescue. She came up on stage and stuck the thing back on me … while I kept talking about Presence – what it is and how to get it.
Bari exited stage left … I walked across the stage to the right … and the damn thing fell off again. Now it was literally dangling from the side of my head.
What was I thinking? “I spent thousands of dollars on a coaching program and this is ‘graduation.’ I spent more money to have this talk recorded for a sizzle reel. 150-odd people are in front of me; more are watching the live stream. All of them are judging me. And everything is falling apart.”
What was I doing? Connecting with the audience and going on with the show. I tried holding the mic up to my mouth … but that didn’t work so well. So then I just let it hang on my chest. And I kept talking.
I could feel my face flushing. My legs felt a little wobbly. My underarms a little damp. I laughed with everyone else in the room. And I kept talking.
There was no ignoring what was happening up there, so I engaged the audience in the experience. And did I mention, I kept talking?
That’s petting the elephant. Every now and again when you’re speaking something goes wrong somewhere. Technology fails, sometimes spectacularly. Somebody in the audience does something bizarre. A complete stranger makes a loud and unexpected entrance. There’s an elephant in the room.
The impulse to ignore it is the wrong impulse. Everybody else noticed it – the speaker needs to notice it too. Not dwell on it, not wallow in it. But acknowledge it, make it part of the show, and, yes, keep talking.
Back to Hell Yeah X 2013 – as Larry came back to the stage and I left I was feeling SO disappointed about my blown opportunity. Unhappy about looking flushed and foolish in front of all those people.
I couldn’t have been more surprised by what happened next. Suzanne met me in the back of the room. With an invitation (okay, more like an order – that’s Suzanne) to be a coach at the next Hell Yeah Star program.
Because while I was thinking I had screwed things up royally, she and Larry were thinking, “Wow, is she good.”
When I made it all part of the show – and kept talking – they said, “What she has, and what she teaches, every one of these people needs.” And just like that, they decided to make me part of their team.
It was a big learning for me and I share it with my clients all the time. Whether they speak on a big stage or in a small room, I tell them, the point is not to be perfect. The point is to be You.
The more real you are, the more natural you are, and the more willing you are to roll with it (whatever “it” is) … the more you command the stage and connect with your audience.
Pet the elephant that shows up in the room … and the audience bonds with you. Believes you. Buys from you.
And that is magic.