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On Saturday, I attended a day-long workshop. Since I'd spent much of Friday feeling sorry for myself and complaining about having to work on Saturday, it's fair to say I needed an attitude adjustment.
Fortunately, Saturday dawned bright and sunny and I managed to get out of bed in a timely fashion. I arrived on campus at the same time as a colleague I knew, so I had someone to walk in with.
First two hurdles cleared.
Those tasked with putting the program together did a great job. The information was relevant, we got to move around a bit (but not so much that it was too strenuous for those of us who'd expended much of our energy on whining and self-pity) and many good ideas were shared and hatched.
Oh, and they fed us.
Everything was going so nicely by lunch time that I almost felt embarrassed that I'd been such a baby about the whole thing. Lunch was a working lunch (whine, whine, moan, moan) but we were scheduled to get out early due to the fact that one of the speakers was ill (sad for her, happy for us). I grabbed a sandwich (not pre-made and oozing condiments -- hooray!) and rejoined my colleagues at the table, ready to hear the sales pitch/infotainment.
If the morning had been a lesson in what to do if you're in charge of a Saturday meeting, this sales rep was a lesson in what not to do. Ever.
She looked the part, I'll give her that. In fact, she was dressed better than most of us, who'd come in a notch below corporate casual.
Then she started talking.
She was pleasant enough, and somewhat knowledgeable about the product, but appeared to have little direction and even less knowledge of her audience. I stopped counting "ums" at 50 and didn't even attempt to keep track of "so...," "you know..." and the squeaky Valley girl tone that crept in once when she was annoyed, nervous or both (okay, maybe I did count that).
Seriously. She did know she was in a room full of people who grade presentations for a living, right??
In fairness, she expected to follow the speaker who hadn't spoken, but it was clear she hadn't done her homework about the needs of the group in general, let alone the specifics. She underdelivered in her presentation, overpromised when it came to the product, and came across as flighty at best and insincere at worst.
Why am I criticizing this poor woman?
Because her presentation greatly influenced my impression of the value of the product she was pitching.
True, she drew a lousy time slot (lunch) and had to do her presentation without benefit of the lead-in she'd expected. But it was her job to know the product, and if she did, she kept that well-hidden.
So, instead of listening to her presentation and getting pulled in to what the product had to offer, I started crafting a list of do's and don'ts for presenters. I didn't do this to be mean-spirited. As an educator, I speak for a living and, in addition, I will be doing two presentations at a conference in just under a month.
And I don't want to be that person.
Stop back next Monday for the do's and don'ts the sales rep inspired. Meanwhile, if you're putting together a workshop in an unpopular time slot, follow the lead of my colleagues who planned last Saturday's meeting. Keep it relevant. Keep it lively. Keep it moving.
And supply food. Lots of it.