I attended a number of seminars recently. There were several speakers in those events , and a lot of them impressed me. Some of them, baffled me. One speaker started by apologizing in advance for the blunders he will make because he was notified too shortly and didn’t know why he was invited to speak. He read through most of his prepared speech with some commentaries. He demonstrated true to his promise that he didn’t have enough time to prepare. The other speaker started by telling the audience he didn’t know what to talk about and had to be told what to say and that’s exactly what he did. I don’t know what the intention was for saying what they said. Was it to lower expectation? To surprise the audience with one’s brilliance that after one speaks, the audience will say there was really no need to apologize? I was confused because I invested my day prepared to learn something from people who know what they are talking about, only to be apologized to for their lack of preparation or idea about the topic assigned to them.
When I conduct training, I am in the habit of asking questions. Sometimes the group fall into silence when I ask difficult question, but I wait until it becomes too awkward that some participants will volunteer to answer. They often start with a disclaimer by lowering of expectation. They say “try lang po,” which means, I’m not sure if this is the correct answer so don’t fault me for being wrong.
Do you also do that? Do you also try to lower people’s expectations, so they can’t fault you for failing? As a public speaker, I feel that standing on a platform is a great leadership privilege. An opportunity to influence people towards positive action. I believe that to be given that kind of opportunity demands rising to the occasion and doing one’s best. When one readies the audience by diminishing their expectation rather than excite them about prospect is not a good way to start. One might think I’m nitpicking, but this is more than the lousiness of the advanced apology, it goes back to the psyche that works (not works) in preparation for that platform.
Not all of us are speakers but all of us have the opportunity to lead. When that opportunity comes, we start our leadership journey by psyching ourselves up, preparing the hell out for it, and engaging our constituents from the very onset. We do not warn them that we are not prepared and that we are just going to try and to ask them in effect to not blame us for failing. If you are going to lead, tell them you are going to give it your 100% and then give it. No body expects us to be perfect but when we take the platform of leadership, they expect us to give it our best, otherwise, get off!