Early in March, I had the opportunity to make a small stage speaking in one of the world’s largest trade fairs in Hanover. I was in a great mood and I was prepared to talk in front of the audience. It was unforgettable for the audience because I failed to deliver a great talk. I failed utterly because I missed one most important thing.
Let me tell you about my preparation at first. You know that being prepared is only the visible part of the iceberg. While preparing for the talk, I forgot to reread the quote of Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian Sun Tzu. I saw the quote for the first time when I was in my father’s office. My father hanged the quote on the wall so that he can see it every time when he looks up from his work. The quote is written in German “Kein Schlachtplan übersteht die erste Begegnung mit dem Feind.”. Freely translated it means “No battle plan will survive its first encounter with the enemy.” The same goes with my preparation for the speech in front the audience.
“Kein Schlachtplan übersteht die erste Begegnung mit dem Feind — Clausewitz”
When I entered the stage I realized that my both hands were hogtied. The microphone has my right hand and the presentation remote my other hand. I took the microphone close to my lips and it felt unnatural talking to the mike. At this point, Mike wasn’t my friend. He wanted my attention and I wanted to pay attention to my talk.
Seconds later the microphone got away from my mouth. And the audience members had to twist their faces. They had a hard time understanding me. From this point on I lost my concentration because I had to focus on the talk, on the slides, on the microphone, and on the remote. I am not great at multitasking and I won’t be.
It was impossible. So I babbled nonsense straight for 4 instead of 7 minutes. It never happened to me before. When it was all over everybody applauded politely although I didn’t deserve it. It felt as if I got thrown under the bus and it even boosted my confidence. Of course, it was a failure but I learned an important lesson. Never underestimate the importance of a microphone and learn how to use it right!
I never used a microphone in my life before. Well… to be honest, I used it before, but the talk lasted only for one minute. And in Hanover, I had to speak for seven minutes. One minute is manageable but it is very hard to keep the microphone motionless for seven minutes. You have to learn it and I wasn’t prepared for it.
Get up, dust off and get walking.