One of my own most embarrassing moments happened a number of years ago- so long it ago, in fact, that it occurred before there was even PowerPoint! I had facilitated an all-day training program, taught a different program that evening, then hit the road very late to drive to the city where I was going to conduct a strategic planning session the next day. I had my materials and colored overheads in a bag with my ever-present bottle of diet Coke- and the bottle spilled, getting sticky Coke all over everything. I spent the entire night washing, blow-drying, and recoloring the overheads! Exhausted in the morning after my stressful and sleepless night, I had no time for breakfast. I dressed and dabbed cover-up under my eyes so I wouldn’t look like a tired raccoon. Then I put on a smile and went to meet the gentlemen on the board of a national corporation who had come from around the country for a day of strategic planning. This was to be my very first experience with them. Everything went fine as I entered the room and was introduced to the group. Then I took one more step and tripped, landing in the lap of a very surprised CEO! Well, after the frustrating night I had endured, I can’t tell you how tempted I was to simply struggle out of his lap and run for the hills (or at least my hotel room)! Instead, I got out of his lap, stood up with as much dignity as I could manage, and told the astonished group: If we do a good job with the strategic planning today, I will sit in EACH of your laps!
Everyone laughed with me (much better than at me!) and the session proceeded very well. (And no, I did NOT sit in any more laps- either accidentally or on purpose.)
I learned a number of things from this experience:
Do not travel with a bottle of soda in the same bag as your materials or overheads!
Everyone is human, including me, and so mistakes will happen.
You have to see the humor in embarrassing situations and be able to laugh at yourself.
People are very forgiving and relax if you don’t take the embarrassing moment too seriously.
Next week, I’ll share a funny moment that happened to another trainer whose behavior epitomized the saying: The show must go on!