It all started when the Travel Plan showed “Green” against my name, which essentially meant I had a program coming up on the said date. I started preparing for the program accordingly when out of the blue, Arnold, the lead facilitator of the program called to inform me that the organizer from the client’s end wanted us to have a meeting with someone from the client’s organization two days before the event date. He then informed me that he was not going to be available in Bangalore for the said date and wanted me to arrange for someone else to take up the meeting. The client was looking for a brief on the activities, learning(s), and the timing of the entire workshop in the said meeting. I immediately checked the “Travel Plan” document only to find that no facilitator was available on that day, which meant I would have to step up and attend the meeting myself!
While preparing for this meeting, an interesting analogy that crossed my mind was that of that first job interview. Do you remember the excitement and nervousness you felt in that moment? I had a similar experience while parking my motorcycle in the client’s parking lot. Being more of a laid back person, I have yet to invest in proper formal clothes. However, this meeting had me worrying about my overall appearance. After much brainstorming, I finally decided to wear our FocusU t-shirt to the meeting, paired with denim trousers. Interestingly enough, it turned out to be the day the client organization had their recruitment interviews lined up. As I walked in, I could see the lobby flooded with candidates, all dressed in formals. Being dressed in our official t-shirt seemed to be a stroke of genius. It not only made me stand out in a sea of formally dressed individuals but also was a great way to further promote our own brand. The FocusU logo was like a light-saber, catching everyone’s attention. It was also easy for the representative from the organization to recognize me and she complimented me saying that I looked really professional.
Breaking the proverbial ice
The main stakeholder was delayed as he was stuck in traffic, on his way from the airport. While we waited for his arrival, I felt the need to break the silence which was getting awkward. To break the ice, I initiated a conversation about the requirements and expectations from the upcoming workshop. I did my best to get the people present to feel comfortable and I am delighted to share that I was indeed able to set up a repertoire with them. As time passed and we got more and more comfortable with each other, the conversation line turned toward pleasant and personal things; so much so, that by the time the main guy arrived, we were already discussing the plot of Sacred Games (2). I realized how easy and important it is to establish an open line of communication with the client to better understand their needs, expectations, and thus, be able to provide them with an excellent and satisfying workshop.
I would further like to encourage all the people involved in a given FocusU program to understand the entire plan inside out. Not only will it help you prepare better for the overall execution but also instill in you confidence when it comes to answering questions related to the workshop. You may be asked about how the activity will run, what props will be provided, the different roles and responsibilities of the people involved, and the things that the client needs to arrange for. They might further inquire about the time required to conduct the various energizers and the main activity. Before showing up for this meeting, I visited our website and read all about Chain reaction and Olympics challenge. I even called up Arnie(Arnold) and asked for his ideas of running the Olympics and back up activities, in case it rained on the day of the activity.
Being prepared helped me put the client at complete ease. As fate would have it, our scheduled con-call with Arnie post the arrival of the main stakeholders could not be completed owing to some technical error. While we waited for the issues to get resolved, I was able to explain in detail the logistics involved along with how we planned to run the activity. I was even able to explain to them the actual activity with the help of a visual aid which I had been mindful to carry along. It was truly a WOW experience for them. When Arnie finally connected with us, the client asked him to simply explain the remaining debriefing points as they were already all caught up on the rest of the plan.
This experience opened my eyes to the benefits of being prepared and being mindful of the responsibilities we are entrusted with. Not only will I be better prepared for the next out-of-the-blue client meeting but also, I hope to handle my life and any given situation in a planned and efficient manner. I wanted to share this with everyone, hoping it helps them improve as well.