When I was a Clown Doctor, one of my ‘codes of clown doctoring’ was to ask ‘what does this situation need?’ when entering a ward or child’s bed-space. A lot of clown doctoring skills are based on being able to improvise in the moment, in other words, just make it up as you go along. This skill was definitely needed last week while giving my presentation to a delightful group of people.
You see it must have been my turn for the ‘tech gremlin’ to have some fun with me as everything that could technically go wrong, did! Firstly we had trouble getting the Keynote slides to work well during sound check; then when it came time to give my presentation the keynote slides magically ‘disappeared’ from screen and needed to be re-set. (I’m not that tech savvy either so I was most thankful to my Gen Y colleague who baled me out and saved the day by getting things working!). Then half way through my presentation the mic died, battery was dead as a doornail. I still had at least 30 minutes to go and the idea of trying to scream to be heard by over 250 people did not appeal. So, I improvised and used comedy to cover the awkward moment. I simply asked the AV person at the back of the room if he could fix the problem mid-stream my presentation.
This wouldn’t have been a problem except the battery pack was neatly and discreetly tucked inside my dress on my back! There was giggles and laughter from the audience as the AV man came up on stage unzipped my dressed and replaced the battery in the mic pack (blush!) I covered by making reference to how as Clown Doctors we have to ask ourselves ‘what does this situation need?’ and be ready to improvise - what this situation needed was a new battery so that’s precisely what we did!
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and we need to be able to manage the moments that are problematic to us, to put our ego selves aside that gets upset when things don’t run smoothly or accordingly to plan; to find the humour in the moment so as to put others at ease and to be flexible and adaptable and come up with solutions that may sit outside the box (I don’t think being unzipped on stage in front of a crowd is in the ‘Speakers Guide to Wowing an Audience!’) – however in the moment it worked for me. I showed them how ‘clown leadership’ works, I stayed focused on the big picture, reminded them and myself that we’re all human and stayed connected to what’s really important.