Last night, I spoke at a function in Cape Town, and I was almost in big trouble.
Now, I know the venue very well, and I know how long it usually takes to get there. So I left from home, planning to arrive at the meeting at least 45 minutes ahead of schedule, which would give me plenty of time to setup. But three things happened:
- Firstly, one of the main freeways into town was closed due to roadworks. This resulted in a massive traffic slowdown on the other roads.
- Secondly, there was another large function on at the venue, so I struggled to find a parking spot.
- Finally, the meeting was running way ahead of schedule, so while I was expecting to arrive before their coffee a break – during which I would setup – and then speak at 9:15pm, they were already on their break at 8:40pm when I eventually arrived.
That gave me about 10 minutes to setup and test my equipment before speaking. In the end it all worked out fine. I got everything working in good time, and my presentation went very smoothly. But it was too close for my liking. I did not have time to mingle with the delegates beforehand, or to gather my thoughts.
Even though I thought I had plenty of time beforehand, I didnt. So, what did I learn?
Give yourself plenty of time to arrive and setup beforehand (at least 1 ? hours). No matter how well you know the venue/route/meeting arrangements, things can and will go wrong to derail your plans. Arrive early, and be prepared.