I LOVE living in Sydney, despite the traffic. But over the years, after too many nervous car trips, cursing at the traffic and worrying I might run late for a job or a meeting, I’ve changed my approach. I leave an hour for travel. Unless I’m heading somewhere very close and I am sure there won’t be traffic, I simply build in an hour to my schedule.
The CBD is about 10 kms away from home (my Maps App says it is a 22 minute journey by car) – but I leave an hour. The airport should be a 40 minute drive, but I always leave an hour. As a result, zero stress and I’m never late. No time-wasting because with mobile devices, if I arrive early (which happens 50% of the time) I grab a quick coffee or sit in the comfy office lounges in the foyer and get on with my work, the same work I would have done in my office before I left.
So, what does my obsession with time management and stress relief have to do with conferencing? Well, the majority of conferences I MC or speak at are guided by agendas that don’t factor in the reality of how long things usually take. They fail to take into account the reality of “conference traffic,” the inevitable road blocks that make a conference run overtime.
That 8.30am start is likely to get pushed back to 8.40 because ,surprise surprise, when we opened the doors at 8.25, it took 10 minutes to usher the 350 delegates into the conference room and that didn’t even include the 37 people who were not going to lose their place in the coffee queue for neither love nor latte. That “short opening video” took three minutes but wasn’t accounted for in the Run Sheet. The CEO’s 10 minute opening address ran for 15 minutes and who is going to cut him short?
It takes a good MC at least two minutes to transition from one session to another, but that was not taken into account in the run sheet and those short minute transitions need to be multiplied by the number of speakers in the day. Let alone, that speaker who runs overtime, ignoring all attempts to get him off stage and the fact that you can’t feed 350 people at the buffet in the 30 minutes we had allowed for lunch.
So, in the same way that I over-estimate how long it takes me to get into the city and build in some fat so I run on time, I always advise conference organisers (and the client themselves who often have unrealistic expectations) to over-estimate everything. So, for example, to allow an hour for a 45 minute session. Allow for at least an hour for lunch. Assume there will be “traffic.”
Worse-case scenario, the conference day ends early, which will delight the delegates, as you’ve given them the free time they crave.
Don’t let that traffic turn your conference into a carcrash.
If you are looking for an MC for your next conference or a speaker/trainer on presentation skills or pitching skills, email email@example.com or visit his website at www.andrewklein.com.au.