Comments on: Give me a break! Unconferences, peer conferences, participant-driven events, and facilitation Sat, 02 May 2020 14:02:26 +0000 hourly 1 By: Adrian Segar Sun, 03 Jun 2012 19:08:00 +0000 In reply to Executive Oasis Intl.

 Wow, Anne. What a nightmare! My sympathies.

We don’t expect a great restaurant to provide us a superb meal in half the normal time; why people think that effective learning can be delivered fast-food style is beyond me. What I think your story shows is that many managers play lip service to providing effective learning opportunities. I just wrote a blog post about this very topic:

Perhaps another take-away is that clients who battle over session length even before a contract is signed are likely to renege further when the day arrives. One possible defense could be to write a minimum duration into the contract and include the right to receive a full fee and cancel the session if the specified time is not provided.

By: Executive Oasis Intl Tue, 29 May 2012 14:49:00 +0000 Tell me about it. I have also encountered this. It is one of my pet peeves along with unrealistically short time frames for sessions. It often ends up being a battle royale with clients when setting up the schedule for meetings and team building retreats. I recently blogged about a client with whom I battled for weeks as they insisted in cramming a session for which I needed 3 hours into a 2 hour time slot. They also insisted that they were not going to build a break before my session into the agenda. About a week before the business meeting, I was informed that my time had been cut to 1 1/2 hours as they had just too much content to cover. I was labelled as “inflexible” when I provided feedback that this was painting me into an impossible corner to develop results. I pointed out that content would have to be cut to the point that the session would almost be meaningless.

On the day of the meeting, the CEO who I had been told always spoke briefly, went over time….it’s certainly his prerogative as he is footing the bill but wouldn’t it have been better to build a more realistic time frame into the agenda? The speaker before me also went over. I was to start at 3:30. He ended at 3:40 and then the client decided the group needed a break. I went on at 3:55. I was to end a 5:00 and did not have permission to go more than 10 minutes over as the bus was leaving at 6:00 for dinner. I had to chop content on the fly, cut short an exercise and skim the surface for some topics. This reflected poorly on me. An opportunity to get in front of 56 senior executives and possibly generate enough repeat business to keep my pipeline full for years was ruined. I did make a point of alerting the group to the fact that I had requested 3 hours and I also apologized for the late start and the need to cover content in less depth than I had wanted. I hope that some were bright enough to pick up on the fact that the blame for this rested with their own internal organizers. As you know, the speaker usually gets blamed.

The take-away? Better to decline the gig than risk tarnishing your own reputation if the agenda is set up in a manner that makes it impossible to deliver value for clients. 

For planners, here is some help in planning realistic time-frames:

Instant Team Building: What’s up with the 30 Minute Debriefs? 

Participant Engagement vs. Instant Results 

If you ever get stuck, here are some tips:

Making Presentation, Facilitating Meetings & Team Building Within a Tight Time-frame: