When you speak regularly for churches, schools, organizations, and ministries you experience a lot of things. Most things are good, because the people with whom you're working are good people attempting to do their best. But sometimes the doing-their-best isn’t attempted and as a guest speaker you’re left with having to go with the flow.
For example, here are a few fairly frequent occurrences:
--People promise the moon in terms of the support technology you’ll have available, e.g., video projectors, sound systems, etc. But the tech available isn’t what the contact person thinks it is.
--Often the tech available is exactly what the contact person promised it would be, sometimes top-notch. But tech is only as good as the person operating it, and this is where organizations trip-up way too often. The person, a volunteer, doesn’t show up. The person is late, isn’t adept at using the tech, knows some other kind of tech, like Apple vs. PC, but does not know what’s on hand.
--The tech support person doesn’t listen. This is an amazingly common experience. People want to run their tech the way they want to run it, not the way a guest speaker wants or believes the audience needs. I worked not long ago with a young woman who didn’t want to turn up the sound on the video—her 20-year-old ears could hear just fine, but the audience was 40-85 years, leaning in trying to hear. My wife told a fellow she wanted to play vid #2 and he says, “Yeah.” Then when she’s ready up comes vid #1.
--Sometimes orgs want you to speak “while people eat—oh, it’ll be OK.” I’ve done this many times and likely will many more, but it’s not OK. People want to socialize while they eat, not listen to a speaker.
--The host org generously provides food, which is appreciated. But whoever coordinates the food support sets it up as a buffet line, wanting to maximize choice. But what this maximizes is time, a lot, especially when people make their own sandwiches one condiment at a time. This can eat up, pun intended, half the assigned speaking time. It’s much better to go with something very simple or with box meals from a place like Panera Bread or Jimmy Johns.
--Organizations invite or otherwise allow you to speak and then a day before remember they want you to speak on a complex theme that has little or nothing to do with your expertise, plans, etc. For some reason, churches especially want you to fit their motif rather than present your ministry’s work.
There’s more, but you get the picture about learning to flex and go with the flow.
I have a theory about why contact persons over-promise re tech and tech support. Most of them are 40 and up. They don’t live and breathe tech. This doesn’t mean they’re technologically illiterate, just that they don’t use it for speaking, certainly not daily. And every time they’ve seen it work, it has, because the president or senior pastor is there and the tech support is as it should be. But not when the guest shows up.
All this is why most of us who travel and speak regularly carry our own small vid projectors and speakers. If you don’t, you’re at the mercy of these vicissitudes.
Have PowerPoint. Have Video. Have Vid Projector/Speakers. Will Travel.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012
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