The place smelled like money; the company must have spent at least USD 500,000 on the event. This amount is peanuts for the billionaire investor who has investments in all major business centers of the world from New York to London and Tokyo.
The place was so well decorated; I thought I was walking in one of the internationally famous galleries. The gorgeous servants were wearing very short and tight skirts along with high heels. They were as busy as bees serving the VIPs. In the right side of this commodious reception hall, there was an old man playing a strange musical instrument, it looked like an enlarged guitar but sounded very disturbing. I felt like a stranger because I did not meet anyone I know and these VIPs were busy talking to each others, perhaps striking lucrative business deals. Few minutes, I was lucky to meet some of my business contacts and few friends.
The organizers called us to enter one of the halls of Bahrain RitzCarlton Hotel to begin the official launch ceremony. It was on the eve of 1 February 2011 around 8 o’clock. We sat comfortably on one of the round tables. Without waiting for the organizers permission; we attacked the samboosa, spring rolls and the cheddar cheese cubes on our table. We were so hungry!
The Master of the Ceremony tapped the microphone to check whether it was on or not and then began by opening in the usual way: Your Excellencies, Your Highness, Dignitaries and our most welcome guests: Good evening. I thought this was very boring and expected. This well-known TV news anchor lost an opportunity to make an impact on the audience by having a better and stronger opening. She then continued with her prepared remarks and introduced the different segments and speakers of the event. She was very formal and dull. She did not smile at all. I thought we were supposed to be happy and jolly because a new company is born. But instead I felt I was in a funeral.
Unfortunately, the pain and suffering continued. All the speakers she introduced lacked the basic skills of public speaking and had common areas of improvement to shape up their speaking abilities.
For example, the first speaker did not start with an attention grabbing opening, instead he had the same boring opening of the MC. He almost put us to sleep because he spoke in monotone voice. He would definitely be a good babysitter. In addition, he had zero eye contact with the audience because he was reading his remarks from his notes. I did not connect with him at all; he did not use stories to engage us. I thought: Please tell us about your vision for the company, share with us your dreams for it, tell us how all this started, and take us with you in a journey. He was pouring facts and figures that did not make any sense to me because he did not put them in perspective. His speech was verbose. Five of the six people on my table started typing and fiddling with their Blackberries and iPhones. I even overheard someone telling another: “Can you believe it, we are in the RitzCarlton and we do not have a 3G network!” When he finished everyone was clapping for him, instead I grabbed another spring roll.
I remained in the hall observing the speakers and making mental notes about their performance while I was indulging myself in the starters available on the table. What would you do if you were in my place? Stay or leave? I decided to leave the event because I was so bored but then I decided to stay few more minutes because they started a fantastic laser show. It was so colorful. The two performers were magnificent. They knew their routines, they perfected their choreography and they were so entertaining. The audience clapped for them several times during their show. What a change from the powerless speakers who did not prepare very well and did not make us listen to them. When the show finished, I left the hall to go home.
Do you think it would be a good idea for those speakers to join Toastmasters International to enhance their public speaking skills? You bet. On the other hand, if these executives are too busy to attend Toastmasters meeting regularly, they could have hired a speech coach to help them in crafting their speech messages and improve their speech delivery because the last thing you want as an event organizer is to have a powerful event but powerless speakers.