Back in the Saddle
Front of the Room – Brian Lange
I noticed things that couldn’t happen in a virtual environment
I am (happily!) writing this article from 36,000 feet, on my way back to Phoenix after having just experienced -17 degrees (that’s not a typo!) in the great state of Minnesota. I co-facilitated a day of a national sales meeting with my colleague Doug Shupinski for a local client.
I know that readers of this magazine — at this point — have varying degrees of experience with being “in-person” for their deliveries. And, you may have read my team member Tina Greene’s recent account in these pages of her first “live” post-2020 delivery. (Read Tina’s Fall 2021 column here.)
For me, this was only my second time being in-person with an audience in more than two years. As a consultant who had logged 100,000+ air miles per year for more than 20 years before the pandemic, the idea that this was only the second time I had been “live” with a group is actually kind of hard to fathom.
As each of you face the prospect of varying (and ever-changing) opportunities for being “in-person” again, I thought I’d share some observations of my overall experience.
I bought some new clothes!
Having been in sweatpants and an appropriate (misleading) Zoom “professional” shirt for the pandemic, I treated myself to some new adult clothing. I feel like such a grownup. I wore shoes with laces and socks and a belt. And I donned a fully-adult men’s blazer!
I must say that there was something about getting dressed this morning that felt a bit what it must feel like for an athlete who dons a uniform to get ready for a big game: the tradition, the attention to detail, the desire for everything to be perfect.
I actually chose to add a dash of flair — a colorful pocket square for my blazer. It sort of felt like a way to make a statement: I’m here, I’m dressed, I’m ready to impact a “live” environment.
The day started with the traditional technology twist: The A/V pro was delayed with a family situation and I brought a MacBook to a PC environment. Uh oh.
Anyway, this eventually got resolved (and I was ready to deliver sans slides, if necessary) and I was able to mingle with some of the participants before the official start. I could feel a certain energy and excitement amongst everyone for being together, engaging with each other, laughing and connecting.
As I watched the day unfold, I noticed things that just couldn’t happen in a virtual learning environment:
- Doug high-fived a participant as they realized they were both from Philadelphia.
- I learned during lunch that a participant has three dogs who compete for big titles and that only one “parent” (his wife in this case) can be the — pardon the pun – lead dog. Apparently, dogs designate only one human as their leader. Who knew?
- I observed discussion pairs engaged in sharing their learnings with each other.
- I was summoned to assist a table team to provide greater clarity on an assignment.
These interactions were casual, personal and hard to replicate in a virtual environment. I appreciated and valued each.
On the Road Again
I also enjoyed interesting and enjoyable conversations with Henry and Len — my transportation providers to and from the MSP airport. Both followed a partner to Minneapolis — and one is still in that relationship 37 years later. Although, he acknowledged, he’s currently facing perhaps the biggest challenge in his marriage: a bathroom and kitchen remodel project. (I feel good about his chances of making it.)
Henry and Len added to my Minnesota experience – and reminded me that travel is so much more than simply going from Point A to Point B.
Just like training is so much more than delivering content.
Brian Lange is with Perim Consulting and serves as lead facilitator for LTEN PrimeTime! For Trainers Core and Masters Workshops. Email Brian at email@example.com.