Olympians train for four years (and a lifetime) to prepare for their event at the Games. Sometimes that event only lasts 30 seconds. But even when it lasts a couple of hours, the contrast between the lead up time and the actual playing time is enormous.
I imagine that both the athletes that give the performance of their lives and those that have a bad day (perhaps especially them), wish that the world could see all that they’ve done to get to this moment. Only the athletes (and their teammates and coaches) know that if the world had seen that hit to the knee they took in practice the year before, they would understand why they missed that turn. Or if they’d witnessed how many times they’d practiced that kick, they’d feel the same amount of accomplishment and pride in its delivery at the Games.
The athletes have had the opportunity to eat, drink, sleep and breathe their events, their bodies and their performances for four plus years. The spectators have not…and they have a lot of catching up to do.
Corporate meetings have their own version of this.
Instead of athletes, we have the people in the company responsible for developing the meeting, the meeting makers. And, instead of the spectators, we have their bosses.
The meeting makers spend months with every last little detail. They are part of the long, grueling sessions where creative, content and environmental decisions are made. They lived the conversations that ultimately turned the word ‘move’ to ‘achieve’ in the theme. They connected all the dots, painstakingly, from speaker to breakout session to video.
The powers that be, rightly so, look for updates. And so, the meeting makers must bottle the last four months into a 10 minute presentation. This is their moment to show the fruits of their labor, the highlights of everything they’ve worked on until now. Not only is it a great challenge, it’s also an ironclad test of how well the meeting development process is going.
- If the update can be delivered in these 10 minutes so that the spectators easily ‘get it’—then the meeting is on the right track.
- If it can’t, and the spectators are lost and the athletes are imploring, ‘you had to be there to understand!’—then you’re in trouble.
There is another lifesaver, however. It’s the chance to show your work before the pressure of the actual Olympics.
In the world of the Olympians, it’s Nationals or time trials. For meetings, it’s called socializing your content—a more relaxed get-together to share the elements of the meeting and to walk the spectators through your thinking. While you can’t give them as much of the pre-strategy work as you’ve had, you can give them a fair bit. And you can give them some time with your ideas—so they’re warmed up for the big day.
A good way not to be the guy that trains his whole life… only to be disqualified with a false start.