A Tale of Two Key-Note Addresses

“We are having our Annual Sales Conference and we would like you to deliver a Key Note address for our Pan-India Sales Team on Value Selling.” said Ramesh, the HR Manager of an IT company over phone.

“Thanks, but how did you know about me? “ I asked. “We make our own referral checks in the market before deciding on the speaker.” said Ramesh.

A week later a meeting was lined up by this client based in Whitefield. The two hour long marathon meeting was attended by the VP –Sales, HR Manager and a few other ‘stakeholders’. The brief was about the company product range, expectations and the topics needed to be covered by the speaker.

The PPT deck was submitted. “Only three points in your Key Note address? “ fumed the VP-Sales. I said, “In a 75-minutes talk it is not advisable to focus on more than 3 issues.” Looking at his demeanour, I realized the imminent danger of losing the order.  Wiser sense prevailed. “OK, tell me what do you want me to add?”

“Please add the following four points but more importantly speak on:  Aim High, Don’t Be Afraid of Failures” said the VP.  The topics were added.

After three meetings, 5 conference calls and four revisions of the PPT, the content was finally approved by the top brass for the 1-hour something  talk. I was also asked to sign an NDA.  I heaved a sigh of relief. As Mahatma Gandhi said, the customer is always right After all,  these brightest minds,  most of them from premium engineering colleges, with some having post-graduate degrees from US; how could they be wrong? But then Goddard’s law of aviation states that an aircraft refuses to take off unless the weight of the paperwork equals that of the aircraft.

The D-day arrived. An hour before the talk was to commence, Anthony, a 27-year young manager approached me and said, “ I have seen your PPT deck. I would like you to make the following modifications. Please see to it that your talk is humorous and should have some activities. 25% market growth should be also emphasized.”

Now I was supposed to address nine issues in the one hour talk.  I ignored the trivia that Anthony’s age was less than my experience in the industry.  With bravado I said, “Don’t worry, everything shall be covered. What took Buddha six long years,  I can cover in one hour flat.”

At around 5.20 pm, about 45 minutes while the talk was on   the HR manager came near the lectern and whispered, “ you need to wind up. Now we are going for a football match.” Keeping cool I said “I have covered almost 75% of the topics. More importantly  Aim High,  don’t be afraid of Failures. Is yet to be addressed.”  “Forget it, football is  critical.”  That was indeed a practical advice. The audience was eager to head towards the football ground.

I packed up, got  into the car. When the music  was put on Rafi was at his soulful best, “ Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai?”

A month later Krishnan, MD of Taegu Tec connected me over lInkedin  and asked whether I can conduct a similar assignment.  When confirmed, he asked his VP sales to coordinate with me. I sent the design: no meeting, no discussion, the program was confirmed.

After the key note address was over, I said, “ I am a bit surprised. I thought you will call me for discussion,  have series of meetings to confirm what I am going to speak about,  the PPT deck,  the flow etc.“

He replied, “Rajan, at my age,  I know how much time I should assign for each task. For a one hour talk I need not be wasting too much of my time and that is why I asked my VP sales to take over. But what is more important is to judge a person’s competence and take decisions accordingly. Considering the task complexity, and its impact on my business, a key-note address is low-risk issue.  I need not be spending more than 15 minutes while calling you as a guest speaker.”

I was remembering the book, What They Don’t Teach you at…

Rajan Parulekar| rajan@paradigm-info.com

4 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Key-Note Addresses

  1. Fred

    Superb…!
    In consulting and training industry….we all have such si.ilar experiences….

    Yours got interrupted after about 45 minutes….mine, because the team wanted to play, got rescheduled for the next morning (with a cut of 25 minutes)…..hahahhiii…

    Reply

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