What happens when you follow the magician?
In January, I was struck with panic. I had the pleasure (and horror), of following the keynote speaker at the National Sales Meeting for Prestige Global Meetings. Give2Get had sponsored the breakfast portion of the program, so I had the opportunity to tell 150 meeting and event professionals about the benefits of adding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)/volunteer programs into their meetings and events.
I didn't need any real skills. The sponsorship meant I had a guaranteed speaking opportunity; and I speak about the transformational work our company does daily. In fact, it invigorates me. That is, until I found out that I'd be following a professional motivational speaker who is also an amazing magician.
The night before, I had met Kostya Kimlet, who would become my early-morning nemesis. He was working the room at the evening reception before the meetings began. When I say working the room, I mean he was performing magic up-close and blowing the minds of all. He was also ridiculously charming — and had the gall to be exceptionally nice and well-dressed.
I joked that I was rooting for his total failure the next day because I wanted the meeting planners to hear my message about how Give2Get could make the world a better place through volunteering. That's when he broke me down with sage advice.
“So many people who have to follow ‘the magician’ go into a shell. They immediately discount their presentation as not as good... and certainly not as entertaining,” Kostya said. “Don’t do that. Own your presentation, ride the wave of a fun, engaged audience — and be yourself.”
It seemed like good advice, but I was still freaked out.
Kostya’s presentation was truly awesome. The magic tricks were exceptional, the message ("Think Like a Magician") was totally on point, and the delivery flawless. While he was speaking, I was frantically taking notes on his speech, which dovetailed nicely into what we do at Give2Get.
He explained how magicians go beyond the trick and result to focus on the effect. That's exactly what we do when we produce a volunteer event.
After a standing ovation (of course!) and a short break, I was introduced. I remembered the things that Kostya told me to do or, rather, what not to do. I owned my time. I was myself. And, I had confidence in my message.
I highlighted the similarities in what he said and what Give2Get does. I showed the audience examples of the amazing events our company produces. I even joked that my predecessor had used the “dark arts” to create magic whereas my company does it every day through volunteerism. I rode the wave — and got off it just in time. Thanks for the advice Kostya.
The truth is, I was happy to follow the magician. It’s rare when you get to add to the excitement and story that someone else has created. Plus, it’s a lot better than having to follow the data analyst — but that’s another story for another post.