In choosing my gig of the year one of two belters from just last week would fit the bill. Edinburgh on Monday at the Dakota hotel saw influence, persuasion and pitching delivered to 50 people who sell homes. It was a return to their annual conference and I have to say these ladies, for it is almost all women, provided as much inspiration, entertainment and education as me. A great lunch between sessions with the added pleasure of bumping into Dakota owner Ken McCulloch, whom I worked with as a young architect on One Devonshire Gardens, made for a terrific day.
A short hop to spend the rest of the week in Dublin on the four key business development meetings. This programme always brings out great learning and it was five o'clock before we knew it. Delegates get to be my wing man on the client side and last up was Andy, who had us all in stitches with his perfect playing of a grumpy, inflexible client.
But there is no real competition for gig of the year. Or, more accurately, gigs. In June I delivered seven four hour big audience seminars by a lake in the Cotswolds. Perfecting Your Pitch: Making The Emotional Connection is as good as it gets topic-wise. And having 100 souls out front on each occasion? Well, that's better than golf. The cherry on top was that Michael and Nicky were delivering their bon mots at the same time: we worked with 3000 people in one month, a record.
The pitching material is interred in my bones, allowing all the effort to go into putting on a show; starting at 8.30am and finishing at lunchtime that's essential. The finale was teams of delegates pitching to Sir Richard Branson using whatever means they thought appropriate. It was a hoot even though Branson never showed up.
There is another reason the seven summer days waking with the ducks hit my sweet spot, an emotional one. It took me back to the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada in 2001 and my first big audience gig after starting KWC. I had a three hour slot at the JCI World Congress to 40 delegates in the type of seminar room I am now familiar with. Nerves are not an issue now but they were then. That looked like it would not matter as, five minutes from kick off, no-one had turned up. The Snip and I had the room to ourselves. Ever been worried and relieved at the same time?
The audience thing was soon sorted as delegates from over 20 countries rushed out of the main auditorium towards my session: Kissing With Confidence, Passionate Oral Communication was popular then and remains so now. We closed the doors with over 70 in the room- they were standing at the back and sitting in the aisles- and I still look back with fondness and incredulity at the whole damned thing. Like the ladies who sell homes, my multi-national audience took the session by the scruff of the neck and made it all a real pleasure.
The few hours I regularly get spend in front of a big group are a privilege and a joy: I never take them for granted. You are never more alive than when on the stage, flipchart behind you, big pen in hand, with an expectant audience looking for learning and a good time.
Or, lakeside in June, seven audiences looking for a good time.
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Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.