I have two delightful children who generally get along very, very well. Except for the rare occasions when they get along not so much.
The other day, my daughter left me a voicemail message in which she told me that her brother had punched her in the stomach. In the background, I heard my son say patiently, “I did not punch you in the stomach.”
She started her story over, post-interuptus, and mentioned this punch again. And again, from the depths of our kitchen, I heard my son (still calm) say, “I did not punch you in the stomach.”
She began her story for third time, only now she modified it slightly with one word—”…and then when he punched me in the stomach ‘accidentally’…”—that was heavy with sarcasm and a dash of eight-year-old placation, in case you missed it. And her brother was finally quiet.
For my son, it was all about perspective. If he hadn’t chimed in, his sister’s story, and my take on it, would have been completely one-sided. Something would have been missed. And he might have been grounded.
Oftentimes during the set design portion of pre-meeting preparations, some things are also missed due to perspective.
When designing the meeting environment, the focus is usually on the audience—and for good reason: the goal of the meeting is to give the audience a transformative, inspirational experience; the best one possible. To give them this experience, they need to connect with the speakers—to feel their energy, understand their information and grab hold of their directives to move forward.
So, the environment is designed from the audience’s point of view. We check the stage, the screens, the IMAG, the sound, the lighting…all from the audience’s perspective. We sit (physically or digitally) in the front row, the back row, house left, house right. We do everything in our power to ensure that the audience can connect with the speaker and his/her content. We heave a sigh of relief that our audience is taken care of…
But what about the speaker? Isn’t it just as important to look at the lights, audio, content, stage and audience from the speaker’s perspective?
Uh huh. I think so, too.
If a presenter looks out into the audience and sees glaring spotlights or a blackness, how can s/he reach out and touch the audience? If we’re in the business of building connections, brought on by the clearest of communications between meeting stakeholders and their audiences, it is imperative that the communication circuit is wide open and running in both directions.
Otherwise, some thing (opportunity, inspiration, PowerPoint presentation?) is likely to be missed. And even if it’s ‘accidental’, it can ground the whole meeting.