Some time ago, for reasons outside my control, I was unable to make it to an event where I was scheduled to speak.
My daughter was taken ill. If you’re a parent, you know how that feels. If you’re not, I hope you can imagine my feelings, as I mopped her brow in London while contemplating the 200 or so students expecting to hear me speak about How To Be More Creative, in a lecture theatre 150 miles away.
When my daughter finally fell asleep, I phoned my host in Bournemouth, senior lecturer Alice Stevens, to ask if it might be possible to deliver my interactive talk using some kind of online conferencing tool.
You know, Skype or Zoom, or similar…
Alice was not ecstatic, because she’d not done anything like it before, and the time was tight. But seeing little alternative, and being fundamentally an adventurous type, she agreed.
And so the talk went ahead. For myself, I found it a little disorienting, because when I started doing the audience interactions I’m fond of, Alice kindly walked the laptop around so I could see people, which made me feel a little seasick.
But when I said that out loud, it went down very well indeed: audiences seem to quite like it when speakers admit to some kind of wobble. (This speaker, anyway.)
I was happy to learn afterwards that, despite everything, the motivational theme of my talk came through loud and clear.
In an email the following day, Alice kindly let me know that the event had been a great success, and that students particularly liked the Skype element. I suspect they must have been particularly good-natured students – but anyway, Alice pronounced herself satisfied.
Speaking for myself, I had a lot of fun. It was a bit wobbly, and I couldn’t read people’s faces at all, but Alice looked after me very well, and taught me that it’s possible to do more events than I previously managed – because it turns out that I might not always have to travel.
Avoid infectious disease! Save the planet! Get your next speaker on Skype!