I left my handbag at home last night…

“Sometimes it takes a wrong turn to get you to the right place.” Mandy Hale

My routine had been changed. Instead of driving myself to a speaking gig, my daughter decided she would come with me and help out. She had taken the camera, books and incidentals to the car with her in my small case, and so I was good to go. Grabbing my jacket and a last minute check that I had the memory stick with my presentation on it, I raced out the door and jumped into the car.

Battling peak hour traffic, the uncomfortable Melbourne heat and feeling a little anxious that we might be late, I forced myself to sit back for an air-conditioned, chauffeur driven half hour drive. Besides, it would give me an opportunity to review those last minute changes to my slides and also use that time to get into the zone.

Until I realised I had left my bag behind. But it wasn’t just the bag I had forgotten, and it wasn’t my phone that I suddenly felt naked without, nor was it the make-up I didn’t have in order to touch up the melting mascara. It wasn’t even the fact that I didn’t have my glasses which meant I was totally blind and ended up mistaking the fish for the chicken. It wasn’t even the security of those PowerPoint notes I now had to do without.

It was that I had nothing to use as a crutch of any type. No distractions, no nothing. Just me! And 50 people who paid for their seat at the table and were anticipating my every revenue generating idea so they could receive real value and transform their businesses.

And then I was introduced…

And I realised what forgetting my bag and my makeup and my glasses and my notes really meant:

  • It meant I had no choice but to connect with my audience and be totally present.
  • It meant I had to trust that what I knew, I knew really well and it was an extension of me
  • It meant that I was the consummate professional who was able to improvise, be agile and go with the flow
  • It meant I could be vulnerable
  • It meant I realised the ‘mistakes’ that I made weren’t really mistakes
  • It meant I could listen – that I wasn’t in my head about what should come next
  • It meant I could be self deprecating and call the elephant in the room.
  • It meant it was one of my best presentations where the overarching words fed back were ‘real’ and ‘authentic’.

Sometimes when things don’t go according to plan, when we lose our sense of certainty and control, we overcompensate and try to justify or blame or make excuses.

The best thing in the world that we can do is address the elephant in the room and frame what the audience might see as a fault before they think it, so it is never becomes an issue.

So I opened my presentation with my story of forgetting my bag and then elegantly linked it to our message of crisis, clarity and change with the real value being transparency. It made me just like my audience, it made me relate-able and it created an environment of trust.

This is what we all must do when we create relationships of any type. Be humble, vulnerable and transparent. Our teams want real, our leaders want real, our buyers want real.

And when you get real, grab hold of it, appreciate and respect it.

Just don’t forget it!

Be Bold and Brilliant!

Bernadette McClelland - Keynote Speaker

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