When I was a motivational speaker for a corporate conference recently, leadership gave me a very icy reception. Rampant change was taking place. Leadership clearly hadn't evolved and those in the seats of power were being put to the test. I could tell there was a power struggle going on and I wanted nothing to do with it.
Could I ignore the dynamics and artificially prop up the group? Nope. As I interviewed delegates, I realized that the trouble (as is often the case) stemmed from miscommunication, unspoken conflict and intense pressure to perform without proper guidelines and expectations.
I realized quickly that it would be a tough gig. A short 90 minute motivational speech was not the answer for this large corporation to solve their leadership and morale issues. I could not solve their problems, but I could get to know several key leaders who weren't in the hot seat (and audience members generally approved of). I could create a bond and build some humorous rapport around safe issues with these leaders during my speech.
When I am hired as a corporate motivational speaker, I find audiences thrive on one-on-one interaction. What makes corporate audiences unique is they often know each other personally, have a defined corporate culture, and share the same corporate values, goals, headaches and stresses. The last thing they need is a motivational speaker with a generic message that doesn't address their unique culture. Basically my dilemma is that in my 90 minute motivational speech, I can't ignore their problems and I can't solve them either.
I could create some humorous content and interaction around safe issues to ease the tension, build rapport between participants and decrease stress.
This strategy worked well for this corporate group. The endeavor demonstrated how difficult it is to get much accomplished without the support of leadership, even for a motivational speaker. If the leadership enthusiastically promoted and supported my presence, it would have made my job a heck of a lot easier. Think of the difference it would have made for the employees in their day to day! This leadership had their own problems to deal with.
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