Background: This was my script for my “Analyzing and Presenting Your Results” project in the High Performance Leadership manual (it’s tweaked a little). It was delivered on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at Kroger during the Toastmasters of Snellville Club’s meeting. I was the lead Contest Chair for this event since it was my HPL project. Thus, this event was monumental for me as a leader and individual in general, so I want to keep a “record” of it on here. Plus, I enjoyed delivering this speech at that Toastmasters meeting (as well as at the Lawrenceville BGC Toastmasters Club), and I want to remember what I said. Enjoy!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever planned an event that didn’t go as planned.
For the past several months, my team and I conceptualized and strategized an unforgettable combined Area Contest. The plan was to have all five Area Contests for Division A on the same date at the same location. We were planning to use two separate rooms to conduct two combined Area Contests simultaneously. Areas A11, A13, and A14 were going to be in one room while Areas A12 and A15 were going to be in another room.
The reasons we decided to do things this way were to save money on a location and resources, to share volunteers for the contests, and to get everything done in one day.
On top of that, we decided to have a Chili/Dip Cook-Off to change up the typical menu for district events and to provide a fun activity for those who were not planning to compete in the speech contests.
The night before the event, I put together a binder that had our entire game plan in it and I packed it in my backpack. I was ready to execute our plan on Saturday. However, life had its own set of plans for us that day and those plans came in the form of curveballs.
We were thrown three swift curveballs that day.
Curveball #1: We had to change the flow of the event.
On the morning of the event, I received an email that essentially said, “I know you already printed the program but it’s wrong and you need to change it so it doesn’t violate the rulebook.”
I looked at the email in disbelief.
Are you serious? Why would this person say this an hour before we’re supposed to conduct the briefings?
I took a screenshot of the email, sent it in our group chat, and headed to our venue.
When I got to the venue, I consulted with my team to see what to do about this curveball. We agreed that the printed program wasn’t wrong. However, we needed to tweak the flow of the event a little to ensure the contests were self-contained and fully within the guidelines of the rulebook.
After we quickly resolved this issue, we were thrown curveball #2, a shortage of volunteers.
Unfortunately, some of our volunteers decided to cancel on us the morning of our event. In addition to this, one of our volunteers decided to be an alternate speaker instead of a judge for one of the speech contests.
Can you believe that?
I consulted with my team again to see what to do about this curveball. We decided to step into some of the volunteer roles so we could have enough contest officials to conduct our event. Additionally, one of the contestants decided this was not the right time for them to compete due to personal affairs, so they stepped up to fill one of the vacant roles.
Right when I thought everything was going smoothly, we were thrown curveball #3, a lack of sufficient materials for the voting process for the cook-off.
This was a bittersweet situation.
Although we had a generous array of food for our attendees, we didn’t anticipate the number of food entries we had at this event. Because of that, we were not able to use the voting process that was planned for this contest.
Once again, I consulted with my team to see what to do about this curveball. We decided to just let everyone eat and deal with this later.
Although this project didn’t turn out the way we planned, it was definitely successful and unforgettable overall.
Yes, we had a late start, but we ended on time. Yes, things started off a bit hectic, but the flow smoothened out as the program went on. Most importantly, we achieved our ultimate goal which was to conduct all speech contests for all five areas in Division A in one location on the same date.
Which other Division has been able to pull this off?
Which other Division has had a contest within a contest?
Division A made history that day.
As I’m wrapping up, I’d like to leave you with this food for thought.
One of the biggest lessons that I learned from this leadership project and experience is to be more empathetic toward event planners and leaders in general.
You can have the perfect game plan for an event.
You can have the strongest team to run an event.
You can have the intention of starting on time and doing things right.
However, none of that will prevent life from throwing you curveballs.
It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and look over at the players on the field and think, “why are they so unorganized? If I were in charge, things would be different.”
It’s easy to think that way when you don’t know the whole situation.
Fellow event planners and leaders, I challenge you to challenge your thoughts the next time you’re at an event that’s not going as planned.
I encourage you to step up and be a part of the solution by offering support and empathy to your fellow leaders instead of criticism and apathy.
As Remy from Ratatouille said, “the only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.”