The Happy Accident

I gave a talk last week for the Business & Professional Women of Summit, NJ, and found out at the last minute that there would be no projector or means to use my PowerPoint presentation!

With 30 minutes to fill for the biggest crowd they’d had in awhile—perhaps 50 or 60 people—I decided I was going to stand up and free-associate to the idea of networking.

First, since this was the kind of event where people go around the room before dinner and say a little bit about themselves, I used that information as a way to kickstart my presentation, pointing out what did work (straightforward talk, confidence that came from rehearsal) and didn’t (jargon!) as ‘blurbs’ (those ‘verbal business cards’ Colleen talked about). And I started the whole discussion by having one young woman whose
blurb was exceptional stand up and give it again for the group, so they could see where I was going with it, giving other examples where appropriate.

Of course, this could have backfired, but I feel like it really hit home more for the attendees, because I was talking about someone right there in the room.

So what did I learn from the experience?

From the reaction of the women there, I realized that my taking a risk had resulted in really connecting in a way I don’t sometimes when I’m more prepared. Yes, giving a presentation at the last minute meant I was a little more disjointed than I usually am. But I also thought I was the most in the moment I’d been in a long time. And the reaction of the crowd during and after the presentation was incredibly lively and engaged.

So I realized that one of the best things I can do as a speaker is bring it home to the people in the room. And all because of something that went ‘wrong.’

What sorts of ‘happy accidents’ have you had lately? How have they changed the way you think about things?