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Seeing the good in the unexpected!

November 23, 2016


I don’t know about you but sometimes I get to the end of the day and think “well that didn’t go as expected” and I’m sure I’m not alone.


Just because things don’t always go as we had planned or as expected, it doesn’t mean to say that it wasn’t a great day, it was just different.  At the time though it can cause us stress, anxiety and in some cases even anger.


I thought I would share a recent experience with you to give you something to think about next time your day doesn’t go quite according to plan.


A short while ago I ran an Office 365 training session for a charity in Cambridgeshire. The session had been well planned with lots of conversations about a venue and the course content.  A venue had been booked for us by the charity and although it was one which I hadn’t been to before, we had been told it had good broadband, Wi-Fi and enough space for the 6 of us.


On arrival the room was fantastic, a good size, loads of natural light and exactly what I would want in a room for training.


But as we got going, it became clear that everything wasn’t quite as great as we had thought.  We discovered that not only was the Wi-Fi completely unreliable, it was only running at 0.2 MB (this was in central Cambridge).  Having been told at the time of booking that this was all good it suddenly became a game changer.  How do you deliver web-based software training to 5 people (plus 1 very young baby who was coming along for their first workshop) without any broadband?


The best trainers or facilitators are a bit like swans. On the outside everything is serene, calm and happy, but inside we are all thinking of a million things at once and in this situation it was “ahh what on earth are we going to do?”  Should we cancel the session and rebook at alternative venue?  Should I charge a charity for work that hadn’t been completed, even though it was no fault of my own?  You can probably imagine – my worst nightmare.


After discussing it with the group, it turned out that one of the delegates lived just 10 minute walk from where the venue was. We agreed that we would decamp to her house and run the training from her sitting room.


So with projector and laptop over my arm, we had a lovely walk in the Cambridgeshire sunshine to her house. After removing a painting or two from her sitting room wall, and encouraging the kittens into the kitchen, I delivered the rest of the workshop with us all sitting around her coffee table, and the small baby happily laying on the sitting room carpet.


I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable workshop’s I’ve delivered as it was just so relaxed and our young delegate was as good as gold throughout the whole thing.  However, you can say "it was not as I had planned it."


Taking time to look back and reflect a little, I was thinking about what I had learnt and what I could do to make sure this didn’t happen again, (although I'm not convinced you can plan for every eventuality), my tips are; 

  1. Even if a client books the venue, we need to call them to discuss any key areas that are vital to the success of the workshop - mainly broadband.

  2. Don’t panic and keep calm, even if it is just on the outside.

  3. Be flexible – just because we have a plan it doesn’t mean to say that it can’t evolve and still be just as good.

  4. Keep smiling – think swan!

So however your day has gone today, concentrate on the positives, reflect on any negatives and give yourself time to think how you could do things differently if the situation comes round again.

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