Suyin Aerts
December 16, 2022

Personal growth

Earlier this week one of my mentees shared with me that she was not satisfied about her performance at an event she participated in. She asked me if I ever have had the same feeling not to be fully proud of what I did.

I told her that I had that feeling before, on occasions when I participated in something of which I was not 100% convinced I had to do it. 

In her case the organizer changed the initial plan, instead of a keynote she was first asked to give, they asked her to become part of a panel. The organizer did not even ask her if that was ok for her, they just decided to change the planning and that felt a lot like a lack of respect to her.

When you work together with someone that already showed a lack of respect, even if the topic of the event is entirely  in your scope, it is more than normal that you cannot be fully happy with what you did, I told her. But it showed a lot of respect from her side, so she could as well decide to cancel the event.

Sometimes organizers are not aware that being in a panel is not the same as giving a keynote. She also told me that the preparation of the moderator was also not done upfront.

Some organizers do not see the need for an external professional moderator. I did see internal people or specialist moderate panels in a decent or acceptable way, and some have a talent to moderate.

Very often however a panel could have been so much better with a smart, authentic experienced moderator.

On the other hand I also know people calling themselves ‘professional ‘moderators that only follow the lines prepared for them by the organziers…(sometimes they do not even understand the answers the panelist give and come as a total virgin around the specialists table)

So whenever you think of organizing an event, think twice how you want your speakers to shine and share. In a keynote? Or a panel.  If you go for debates, panels and interviews, book the best one for the job, or ask your internal moderator to really think about how he or she will handle the panel. Give them training eventually.

As a speaker try to also find out what your best way of sharing is, and also understand that as a speaker it is very different to speak in a panel or in your own keynote. In a panel you are supposed to listen as able to be more flexible on the preparation as you cannot get prepared in the same way as you do in a keynote.

I do know speakers that can handle both, others deliberately chose not to accept certain speaking opportunities.

The last thing: do not think, let’s do a panel, we do not need to pay our speakers the same amount, or even not pay them at all. It is not not because they did not prepare a keynote that they do not want to prepare. When I am a moderator I talk in calls and on the phone and mail very often with the organizers and the speakers upfront. That takes time for me, but the speakers also need to book time slots and get prepared as well. Even if he comes to speak about his expertise, the panelists need to think about the filters in their knowledge depending on the audience and the timings.

The difference lies very often in where you are aiming : doing things good or great?

The choice is yours as an organizer.

I would also like to share another example of a moment when I did not feel great about a performance. It was when the job they asked me became too easy, as if I am overqualified. You might feel unsatisfied at that moment as well.

As if you are playing a football game in the wrong league, you might even look silly as a star player. It is not the first time that a star player in a weaker team also cannot show everything she got in her. 

Then it is not about the fact you were not good enough, but that you were simply too good.

That’s a feeling you need to see as an evolution.

But as my coach says, if you stop thinking and feel more, you might understand where the feelings come from.  Try to act in the future not to feel like that again.

Accepting your growth is not always easy.

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