We attended an event this week at Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center, which had the potential of being AMAZING. Unfortunately, one person got in the way of her own success and it really detracted from the event.
Before I get going here. . I want to add that all the volunteers, servers and staff were FABULOUS! They were gracious and warm. I was never told directions when asking where to find the restroom, the elevator or the event, I was always taken and shown by a smiling, interactive person. Kudos on choosing such wonderful personnel to work your event!
And. . .Let me say:
I’ve had the privilege of planning large-scaled events for work and other causes, so I will consider myself a bit of a specialist on the subject. I’ve hosted as many as 250, and as few as 5. I’ve been involved with differing types of events as well: sit-down breakfasts, buffets, evening cocktails, customers, board members, the CEO of a VERY large organization coming to town to greet his troops on the ground. I feel that each event was a success, as the response has always been favorable.
So, “Lady in the Bright White Suit”, here’s where I think you got in the way. . .and I’ll turn the spotlight on me at the end.
First of all, you only wear a blinding white suit to an event like this if you want to be seen and stand-out. I appreciate the fact that you were “in charge” here, but whenever I’ve been “in charge” I try to blend into the crowd and bring the speakers to the fore-front. I want each of my guests to feel that THEY are the most important person attending. . .THEY are the reason I threw this party. If you wanted the guests to know you were in charge and able to answer questions, you should’ve been wearing the same shirt as your staff so we would know you were approachable.
You were ill-prepared. Rather than talking about yourself, your church, your pastor and his wife, etc. I would’ve liked to have more time hearing about the speakers, their backgrounds and their experiences. You had a moderator present. . step back and let her moderate. You didn’t even have the forethought to learn about HER accomplishments prior to introducing her. AND, BTW. . LADA Diabetes stands for Latent-Autoimmune-Diabetes of an Adult. Not “Ladened Auto. .uh. .latered. .uh, diabetes.” This was so important to me, because it’s MY diagnosis too. If you’re going to throw a party for a specific group of people, learn their lingo.
I know your church was sponsoring this event, however, the volunteers and church members present should’ve been sitting near the back of the room, rather than at the front three tables. Most of them didn’t even have diabetes! All of the PWDs (people with diabetes), asking questions were sitting in the back of the room and either had a hard time hearing or being heard when asking a question.
Even I know. . if you’re going to serve a buffet lunch during an event, open the buffet earlier so people are finished asking questions about the food and being served PRIOR to having your speakers begin. One of the speakers, from whom I REALLY wanted to hear, was having to speak over the serving line conversations the entire tim. PWDs will always need to have conversations with servers regarding the food being placed on their plates. We shouldn’t have to choose whether we’re listening to a speaker (the reason for our attending in the first place) or the server letting us know the ingredients in the soup.
Speaking of being able to hear. . .
It is SO VERY DISTRACTING for you to stand in the MIDDLE of the room gesturing to the speakers that you think they should speak with more gusto. Seriously, you wandered all over the room as if you were an aerobics instructor, making all kinds of motions and mouthing instructions to your staff, who obviously had no idea what you were doing. Next time, if the sound quality is such a factor to the presentation, test the microphones prior to the event, then test them again, and maybe one more time. If you want your guests to have a good time, be as invisible as possible . .that’s always been my M.O.
Allow enough time for Q&A
I would like to add here that if you’d not spent as much time talking about yourself, your church and the pet names you have your Pastor’s wife, there may have been more time for the wonderful questions your audience had been asking.
These events need to ALWAYS be focused on your audience. You had some wonderful, kind, grateful guests there. They had fantastic questions. Each one I interacted with stated that they were really looking forward to learning from the speakers. I hope they didn’t go home feeling cheated.
I have attended a diabetes event at Samuel U Rodgers Health Center in 2009, just after diagnosis. That event was warm, inviting and well-run. Whomever planned that event, should be left in charge, because I felt that the focus was on diabetes, patient self-management of their disease, etc.
Why does all this matter anyways? I mean, it was a free event, free food and time to get together with other PWDs to learn some new things. Of course, I have thought about this ever since I attended and have come to the conclusion that I oftentimes get in the way of my own success too.
I wear the “flashy white suit” of wanting to be noticed on occasion. Who doesn’t? I am also a Christian and try to remember the first shall be last. My goal is to always elevate others before me, but, I’m human and will admit that I like being noticed too. There is a little bit of green streak that runs through me when I hear of cool trips others are taking and invitations to attend pharma events or other D-related conferences. I’m so happy for them, but, I just wish I were able to go to. Who doesn’t want to be included in the fun, right?
Sometimes I’m ill-prepared to face the challenges life has thrown at me. I can choose to remain that way, or I can choose to learn all I can, every day, to be ready to fight, to help or to teach. If I’m going to present information regarding a medical condition (or two), even with the disclaimer that I’m not a medical professional, I need to make sure my information is well-researched and thought through. Anytime I speak, write or have an opinion, I want to be prepared.
There are times in which I have mis-placed people in my life. I have made some more important than they probably should’ve been and discounted others who really needed to be “sitting at the front tables.” A common example of what I’m trying to say here is. . there are times when work seems to take precedence over family. We may be working on a volunteer project that takes more time than it should and our kids feel ignored. It’s important to know who is really important to you and let them know that by seating them up close to you.
Sometimes I “serve lunch while someone is talking.” The people we care about should never be part of a multi-tasking exercise. There are times when we need to stop, look someone in the eye and hear what they’re saying to us. How many times have I been with someone and distracted by my phone, my email, my text messages, pinterest, facebook or twitter. I want to give people the attention they deserve. Sometimes, they can change your life!
I don’t want to stand around directing people with motions and lip service. I want to be prepared enough to make sure everyone can be heard, prior to giving them the floor. They deserve to be heard and I need to step out of the way and not distract from their message.
I need to remember to stop talking about what I think is important and learn what is important to my audience, whether that audience is the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), my family, my church, my neighbors or a stranger that lands on my blog.
The reason I write this blog, is to share my experience and let others know they are not alone. I try to share information that has been helpful for my diabetes and cancer treatments. I hope you’re able to hear my heart as you read my words. If not, I give you permission to call me out. Just address your comments to “The Lady in the Bright White Suit.”
Be deliberate about getting out of the way. . .