Have you ever planned a workshop or talk for a specific audience, only to arrive and find it's not at all what you expected?
Maybe the event organizer was unclear or disorganized. Or perhaps there was a last-minute change in the agenda you weren't informed about.
These things have certainly happened to me, luckily not often, but when they have, it has been stressful! So, here are a few things I've learned on how to manage the unexpected that I hope you'll find helpful:
Find the person in charge and ask as many clarifying questions as possible. At this point, it's no one's fault; it's all about how you can adjust in the moment to best support your audience.
Several years ago when I was a contracted coach with another company, I was one of six trainers. The person in charge was dealing with personal issues and wasn't at their best. So, when I arrived, I realized the audience was not who I thought they were. When someone raised their hand, voiced a complaint, and questioned our approach, I listened, suggested a 15-minute break, and realigned the team to meet the client's needs.
Take the Yes, And approach.
Acknowledge the other players in the situation. You may not agree with them, but the show must go on.
Unexpected changes can test our flexibility and resilience. These challenges, however, also present opportunities/gifts where you get to hone your skills, adapt to new situations, and ultimately deliver a more impactful and meaningful experience for your audience.