Recently at an event where I had a lot of responsibility, I was asked how I could stay so zen. I was responsible for ensuring all of the keynote presentations were perfect for all of our executives. There were hundreds of very important people/companies in the audience, and it was critical to present a professional, cohesive message.*
I told this colleague that I was able to keep calm in the face of a stressful situation because I didn’t think about the enormity of the situation. I understood it, but at that point, I didn’t focus on the big picture. The big picture is made of up little details. So if I stayed focused on the little details, I knew the big picture would come together.
I started this project by planning out the big picture. How would each of the presentations look? How would they be similar, and yet different from each other? How would the lighting in the room reflect the differences in each of their presentations? How would the presentations work together to tell a cohesive story? Each of these questions were answered before we started working with any of the executives on their individual presentations.
Because I have had this responsibility at other conferences, I know how it all comes together. And it always does. I woman with whom I used to collaborate would say, “The news always goes on at 11:00.” Whether they’re ready or not, those lights are going on at a pre-determined time.
And these presentations have always worked out.
The other secret to why I always portray a sense of calm is that I’m working with important people across the company. And they have more important things to worry about than how their slides look.
They are the ones who are getting up in front of hundreds of people to explain why our company is the best at what we do. Some of them are natural up on stage. Others take some work. But giving them confidence helps. If they know how the design and their story are taken care of, they can focus on how to deliver that message.
Again, because I’ve done this a handful of times, I can tell them, “Don’t worry about this, I’ve got it,” and they trust that I do. They can focus their time and attention on other important matters.
Having a clear vision of the big picture enables everyone to move forward and do their part. And it allows time, later on, to be spent on the fine details. Doing things in this order always leads to success.
*We also had a tier-1 product launch that day at one of the biggest trade shows of the year. Our team was heavily involved in both endeavors.