Fiddle with my flies

We make huge use of videos in our sales courses… we believe the opportunity to see yourself as others see you may not be the most pleasurable of experiences but it is massively valuable when learning to sell.

Why are we so passionate about it?

Well, because I can track my career path directly from a course I was on in 1988 (when I was 19 years old) during which I experienced the video tape as a method of learning for the first time.

It was a presentation skills course and we were asked to come to the course with a presentation that had nothing to do with work ready to go.

There were twelve people on the course and five Area Managers had been asked along, too.  So, high pressure stuff!  Add to this the video camera which was about the size of a suitcase (this being 1988), on a wooden tripod and with a massive light illuminating the world.

The facilitator asked who would like to go first and I know it’s hard to believe but I was young and brash so I leapt to my feet and confidently strode over to the flipchart, took a deep breath and totally failed to say anything.




My mind shut down and I couldn’t remember a thing about what I was going to say.  If you’d asked me my name at that moment I don’t think I could have told you.  But that wasn’t the main problem.  Oh, no.  The main problem was this: because my mind had shut down it lost control of my hands which wandered off on their own.

And, whilst on their own they got into mischief by deciding to fiddle with my flies.

Oh, God!  I fiddled with my flies.  Why did I fiddle with my flies?

It got worse, though.  One of the Area Managers asked me if I wanted to take five minutes and compose myself?

No, of course I didn’t.  I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me… no, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow them and me to walk out of there and never have to think of my abject failure again.

However, compose myself I did and I got through the whole thing.

But then came the feedback session…

What do you think you did wrong?  Was the fatuous question.

Well, forgetting my words or fiddling with my flies, you can have either of those!

But what a learning experience.  I can honestly say I’ve not made the same mistake again and I became (I think) a decent enough presenter… all because of that situation.

We have designed our video process to make sure it’s less traumatic for our delegates though.  We use very small cameras, always start with the positives and delete every video we shoot after we’ve completed the debrief process.

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