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Poise Under Pressure

I love rock & roll. So when my husband, Michael, and I had the chance to see Joan Jett & the Blackhearts play at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston last month we jumped at the chance.

At 59 years old, Joan Jett still knows how to rock the stage! Her look hasn’t changed and still includes the spikey black hair, black body suit covered with sparkling silver stars, and raspy voice that kept 5000 fans on their feet.

About half way through the set, her mic stopped working. We could hear the Black Hearts play but couldn’t hear Joan Jett sing.

Before I even had a chance to wonder what happened, she ran to another mic, leaned in close and said, “My mic stopped working. Give us a minute while we get this fixed!”

The Blackhearts kept playing and the back stage crew crawled out to solve the mic problem. Within minutes Joan Jett’s mic was back on and we could hear her voice again.

“Seems I kicked out the plug on my own mic!” She said with a husky laugh.

The crowd cheered and the concert continued without further interruption.

So, what does this have to do with business?

No matter how much we prepare for meetings or presentations, mistakes and mishaps happen…

  • Audiences ask questions and speakers don’t know the answer
  • Speakers forget what they want to say or lose their train of thought
  • Time is cut short
  • Projector doesn’t work and you lose access to your slide deck
  • Microphone doesn’t work and audiences can’t hear you
  • And on and on and on

How will you handle the unexpected?

Here are a few lessons learned from how Joan Jett handled the microphone issue.

Acknowledge the mishap

In business we like to come across as having it all together. We’re human and stuff happens. Instead of avoiding what’s happening and hoping people don’t notice (They will, people are smart.) acknowledge it so you can get the help you need to fix the situation. If the problem isn’t fixed quickly either move on or take a short break.

Ask for Help

If the problem is tech related and you’re not a techie it’s ok! Maybe a technician is on hand or for small meetings ask your audience. People like to help and share their knowledge, give them the chance. You don’t have to figure out it on your own.

Keep it light and rock on

If you’re comfortable making fun of yourself go for it and move on, like Joan Jett. If you’re not comfortable making fun of yourself, simply move on. No need to stew in what happened. Most audiences don’t care. They will care if you keep talking about the problem. Rehash it on your own time.

The Bottom Line

We’re human and mistakes happen. Be like Joan Jett and stay poised under pressure. Acknowledge the problem, fix the problem, keep it light and rock on.

Your voice matters. Keep shining.

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Insights for leaders who are tired of formal protocols stifling their personality and ideas.

Here we get at the heart of what it means to "be yourself" in any business setting.

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