A couple of years ago, international speech contest winner Darren La Croix came to Perth and I went along to one of his masterclasses – ‘Oh no! I have to give a presentation’, held in conjunction with Toastmasters WA. It was held at the Perth State Library.
It wasn’t so much his content that impressed me – even though it was excellent.
It was the way he went about handling an unexpected event.
Perth is renowned for its hot weather, especially in the early part of the year.
It’s true that in some buildings in Western Australia, and Western Australians in general, struggle under weird weather circumstances.
For some strange reason, the day before the event was the coldest February day in years. We only hit 17*c as a max that day and it was blustery, rainy, and miserable outside.
The first thing I noticed was that as soon as I walked into the room, it felt quite warm.
If research tells us that the optimum temperature for a room is 21*c, we weren’t off to a great start because it felt more like a furnace.
Cue the start of his presentation.
He wows us with a video of his international speech contest win in 2001.
And the next thing? He does what every professional should do.
As soon as possible, he acknowledges the elephant in the room.
“I apologise for the room temperature – we’re trying out best to see what we can do about it. But it means that I’ll have to be interesting enough to not make you fall asleep in the next hour”.
By acknowledging the elephant in the room, he is letting us know that he’s present. He’s with us. It’s certainly not perfect, but he’s trying his best despite the circumstances. As we acknowledge the elephant, we no longer have to be a slave to it, nor does anyone else. We can move on.
Darren went on to deliver a brilliant workshop – the audience was captivated, enthralled and inspired.
We can plan and prepare as diligently as we can for our next speech or presentation. However, when the air-conditioner is on the fritz and it’s your time to speak, there’s not a lot you can do at the moment except to acknowledge to the audience the elephant in the room and proceed.
In your experience as meeting organiser or presenter, have you got any tips on how you address the elephant in the room?
This article was originally published on the Presento Labs website as A simple tip that a public speaking world champion taught me about Elephants.
Caleb Tan is an award winning presentations consultant, Presento Labs, who helps business leaders present with confidence in branding, presentations and digital strategy. His expertise lies in presentation design, public speaking confidence and creating digital call-to-action products that communicates powerfully to audiences and inspires them toward action. Caleb has also been an active member of Reality Church with his wife Sarah for many years.