Under Pressure: Staying Cool When It All Seems to Go Wrong

Under Pressure: Staying Cool When It All Seems to Go Wrong

Incorrect audio supplies…check.

Main point of contact not in the office…check.
Audience is less than a third of what was expected…check.
Clicker sensor is too far to reach my position at the front of the room…check.

Are you sensing a theme here?

Sometimes, (all of the) things go wrong. As a leader of the team, presenter or guest lecturer, you have to roll with the punches. And boy, did I get punched.

When it seems like everything is going wrong, it can be easy to lose sight of your goals and get stuck reacting to the situation. As the leader of the team, people are looking to you for how to react. So, if you are frazzled and running around the room, folks might start to get fidgety and uncomfortable. But, if you are confident, thank them for their patience and keep the vibe of the room light, you are sure to keep the mood exactly where you want it.

Here are some things I kept in mind when trying to put out the above-mentioned fires:

1. They didn’t come to hear my excuses.

Rather than place blame on the things that went wrong as an excuse for starting late, I thanked them for their patience.  I reminded them to use the restroom and fill up their water bottles while we finished prepping.

2. Creative solutions don’t have to recreate the wheel.

Sometimes, you have to sit a microphone next to your computer speaker to get audio through the sound system. Or have a gracious volunteer advance your slides for you. Or, quickly find alternate available space to move to. Think fast and think smart.

3. “Attitude reflects leadership.”

This classic line from the movie Remember the Titans constantly echoes in my head. I get to chose how I react in these moments. If I am cool as a cucumber, then how can my team not be?

4. Music goes a long way.

Have you ever watched people panic…in silence? It creates added stress on the overall environment. Have some tunes in the background to encourage conversation and mingling.

In my case, my ability to keep calm while troubleshooting led to a successful event. Rather than getting frustrated during tough times, allow them to teach you patience under fire!
Things happen. How you react says a lot about how you lead. Have you evaluated how you reacted under pressure lately?

Melissa Ruiz

I train teams and their leaders to create a culture of connection. Free Hugger. Fitness Enthusiast. Taco lover. IG: melissa.a.ruiz