Monday afternoon I left work annoyed that I had been drafted at the last minute to do a presentation the next day. I hate doing things that are not in my schedule – I like things to go as planned. I stopped at the health food store to buy some chocolate. Since the presentation was going to be really boring (insurance – yawn) I figured I’d keep people’s attention by firing chocolates at them every once in a while: It was a method I used to at least make them seem interested. As I pulled up to the store I saw that the parking spots in front were all taken, so I wheeled into the space beside the store (yes, a no parking zone) and rationalized “it’s really ok because I’m just running in for two seconds” (and there are no parking cops in Olds). I quickly locked up the car, turned around and did the BEST most Amazing pin wheeling arm, tap dancing kind of wipe out on the ice you have ever seen. Seriously.
I was laughing once I hit the ground because I knew how ridiculous I looked. I landed on my hands and knees, purse skittering across the sidewalk followed by my glasses. Once I got myself under control, I crawled (still laughing like an idiot) over to the bottom of the sign that said ‘No Parking’, pulled myself up, nodded to the sign and said ‘Well played my friend. Well played”. Then walked, very gingerly, into the store, bought the candy and, just as gingerly, got back in the car and left. This afternoon was not going my way.
Once home I told my family what had happened, totally hoping my lovely husband would make the requisite cooing and coddling noises. I was not disappointed. But all in all, the evening just progressed as normal, #couchpotatotvwatching.
The next morning I got up, got ready and started the 45 minute drive to Red Deer to deliver my presentation. I was about 5 minutes from my destination when I realized two things: 1) I had, at the last minute, decided to take the truck and left the other vehicle for my husband, so the chocolates that I put my life in danger to acquire were in the other vehicle and 2) My husband’s computer was in the back seat of the vehicle I was driving – Oops! Good luck teaching grade 12 math without your computer! Sigh. Unfortunately in a completely typical Sandy way, I had cut it kind of close so there wasn’t enough time to stop somewhere and get more chocolate or to return the computer, so I just kept on going, cursing myself all the way (and I’m sure my husband was cursing me too).
I arrived in Red Deer just on time and was able to snag a coffee before we got started. There were two speakers ahead of me so I sat and fretted about how I would do without my prizes. I was confident in my presentation – I’m a bit of an off the cuff speaker: I always have notes but I rarely follow them the way I plan to – but I felt a bit naked without my normal bribe.
Soon it was my turn to present so I got up and started the power point presentation. About 1/4 of the way through we hit the first Participation Opportunity. I had included some questions designed to recap the material and this is where I would normally bribe them to answer by offering them chocolate. I started to explaine to them what had happened and why I had no chocolate to bribe the group but I suddenly had a flash of brilliance. I told them that although there were no chocolates, I had some substitutes and I didn’t think they’d be disappointed.
The first question was asked and many hands shot up ‘The person who yells their answer out the loudest gets the first mystery prize’ I said. The room erupted in noise but one woman clearly gave the answer I was looking for. I pointed – ‘YOU! you win the mystery prize!’ I rummaged through my briefcase and came up with two black paper clips “The Fasteners of intelligence!” I crowed and threw them to the lucky winner. There was a moment of silence, and someone said ‘those are paper clips…’ ‘No’ I shook my head decisively ‘Those are the Fasteners of Intelligence’ There were a few snickers and I worried that this might not go as well as I had hoped. The next question, however, was almost drowned out with premature answers ‘YOU! you are the winner this time’ I yelled out, pointing to another participant. I reached into the mystery bag again and pulled out… A Pink Highlighter “The Illuminator of Knowledge!’ I boomed, over the cheering and clapping. After a few more questions and prizes we moved on through the rest of the presentation.
Just before the end of my presentation one of the district managers poked his head in the room to see what was going on. Before I could explain the noise, one of the attendees yelled “look at what I won!” and started waving a Bic Pen and a peppermint (It had come with the bill at lunch the day before) and grinning like a fool. “The Tool of Most Excellent Communication, and the Sugar Bomb of Productivity!’ The energy in the room was unmistakable and the district manager looked at me “What have you done to my staff?” he asked, a grin on his face but a question on his brow. “All my presentations come with prizes or I bore myself to death” I shrugged “It is insurance afterall…” .
I was worried that the group was too loud and perhaps ‘participating’ too much but the district manager seemed intrigued by the whole thing and slid into a chair at the end of the table. I looked at him for a moment then continued, hoping that he wasn’t preparing to fire me for my loud and unruly group.
We got through the rest of the presentation, each correctly answered question earning a ‘prize’ from my Bag of Plenty. By the end we were all exhausted and my case was just about empty. Just as we got to the end of the presentation, another manager stuck his head in looking for the first district manager. He pantomimed his question to me as I was still speaking, so I pointed to the end of the table. I saw his eyebrows shoot up when he recognized his colleague and he waved to get his attention. The first district manager waved back, grinning from ear to ear, and held up the prize he had just won ‘Look!’ he said “I got the Post-it Notes of posterity!’
I’m not sure if I’ll be invited back to present at the Red Deer office, but it was a pretty fun afternoon. While I do enjoy training, the fact that I could have office workers competing for used office supplies makes me wonder if perhaps I should be in sales instead 🙂