Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not all reality checks are a hand to the forehead

I mentioned that last week we finally did the presentation to get some work at a hospital on the south edge of town.  The hospital in question is having architecture firms audition for what they call architectural services, meaning that we'd be the firm they call whenever they want to do a facelift on a patient floor, replace a piece of radiology equipment and redo the room(s) involved, hey we wanna turn these three rooms into one and make it the new audiology lab...you get the picture.  This is the kind of work that DA does at MHRC and used to do at a lot of facilities until about ten or twleve years ago, when it became cheaper to build anew.  With the credit crunch and financing and the economy being what it is these days, I think we're going to see a lot more remodel and small addition projects.

So anyway, the presentation started with Bosley introducing the team, which consisted of Winston, a youngish interior designer named Cora, and me.  I was up first after the introductions; I explained our design philosophy and our approach to working with hospitals and facility management to make projects work.  Then, Winston took the floor and discussed how we manage projects in general, and finally Cora stood up and explained how we use interior design to benefit the environment, the patients, and the staff.  Then we opened the floor up to questions (the hospital group asked us some standard questions and some followup stuff from the presentation, and we all joined in answering those questions) and then Bosley wrapped up the presentation.  

The presentation was more involved than I'm describing, and it was more interesting for sure.  I'm being a little evasive here, as it turns out that we were the first to present, which means that Guy's firm, Acme Architects, still hasn't presented yet and I'd rather not put Guy in the position of knowing just exactly how much our presentation rokked.

As we drove back to Denver, we did a debriefing/postmortem on the presentation, and I will fill y'all in on that at the risk of sounding vain.  I kicked it, my people.  I wrote out what I was going to say to the word, practiced it til it was 90% memorized, did it in front of Bosley and Veronica, incoporated their copious comments into it, rememorized it to about 90%-95%, and then ROKKED it for da peeplez.  I had their attention, I had them nodding, I had them responding to my own questions for them.  My breath felt like it was in my throat--I think my heart was in my spleen or something; I quit feeling it after about 30 seconds into the presentation.  Winston has a quiet, somewhat tentative speaking style, peppered with some "ums" and "uhs", and a bit more reading right from the PowerPoint slides, which had a few of them flipping through their handouts and one of them even started texting for about a minute.  Cora's nerves got her a bit; she read almost straight from her notecards, and her speech was more speech than conversation, almost designed for CEOs and senior admin folks or people with some design school knowledge.  However, the crowd seemed to be with her, as is often the case with younger people presenting--everyone's been nervous presenting to a crowd before, so everyone's rooting for the younger nervous person at the front of the room.

After the presentation, Winston and Ceila told me more than once how blown away they had been by how well I did, that it was almost intimidating to have to follow me.  (Bosley was pleasant, saying that everyone did a good job.)  But I knew, since I was the first "guest" to speak, that I had to set the tone of the presentation--I had to be strong and yet conversational.  Someone you can relate to but who also seems competent.  In other words, just the kind of person you want to work with.  I had been a bit stunned that Cora, despite having taken a public speaking class in college, didn't seem that prepared for her part of the presentation--perhaps just a victim of her nerves?  Winston, I thought, should know better.  Though he used to have his own firm with another guy and has by his own account done many of these presentations before, he just seemed (to me) to 'um' and 'uh' too much for someone who should know what they're doing.  If you have a quiet and unassuming verbal delivery style and lower energy level, it seems to me that you've got to be sharp in your demeanor and precise with your vocabulary to keep the crowd with you, especially if you're discussing stereotypically boring stuff like budgets and schedules.  However, I may be being too harsh.  This was only my second presentation with DA, and the first one in which I participated actively, so I'm no expert. Though I didn't overhear Bosley tell Veronica anything critical about me when we returned to the office, it's entirely possible that the reality of my performance was less stellar than my perception.

Hopefully, it went well, and also hopefully no one can match our awesomeness in the following days.

3 comments:

ms. kitty said...

Wow, Pixie, it sounds like you did a fabulous job! Nice going!

Miss Kitty said...

YAYZ!

mizscarlett said...

yu haz teh awesum.

prezuntayshun... yur doin it rite.