The World’s Worst Introducer ReturnsPosted: June 29, 2012
Passing along what I know is one of the great privileges of being at the end stage of my career. I love standing in front of a room, explaining how and why. Seeing the effect of how and why is a great reward.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the classes that I teach and facilitate is a week-long seminar on topics relating to persons living with a mental illness. At the end of the week, we send thirty people back out into the field who are more compassionate, and more effective communicators than when they walked in.
While I will pat myself on the back for being an effective instructor, I’ve had to admit to myself that I give awful introductions. When it has fallen to me to introduce new instructors to our classes, I’ve failed miserably. I wrote of this some time ago and I told you that I’d never do another introduction.
I Am A Liar
I lied to you when I said I’d never do another introduction.
Well, maybe liar is a strong word. I meant it when I said I wouldn’t do introductions. For several classes, I ran from the room whenever a new instructor came in so I wouldn’t be asked to help them meet the class. Two weeks ago, I slipped.
Can we just call this not so much a lie as a well-intentioned promise, broken by a victim of circumstance? Well, that’s the way I have to think about it. One of us needs to feel good about me after this.
How This Is Not My Fault
The classroom where this week-long seminar is held is peculiar. It looks very normal, but feels the opposite.
The back of the room is always cold. The front of the room is always hot. This is the case no matter what time of year we teach the class. People in the back are wearing sweatshirts; the instructor is sweating at the front of the room. The variation is so strong that you can feel it as you walk toward the front of the room.
On the fateful morning that I am here to discuss, there must have been some sort of front moving through the room. The temperature swing was particularly strong in the room. People at the back of the room had pulled the hoods up on their sweatshirts. I walked to the front of the room with the first instructor of the day and she remarked to me about how hot it was near the podium. That remark is what I believe is the genesis of my bad introduction of that instructor.
There I Was, At The Front Of The Room
I chatted with the instructor for a moment, then called the class to order. I was a little on edge, because I knew that I should not do this introduction. I promised all of you that I would not. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyone else present to handle the task.
When I’m nervous, I’ll often talk about something else. I started by commenting on the temperature of the room. I apologized to the people in the back of the room for having to bring sweatshirts all week. That should have been enough. It wasn’t.
I was thinking about how excruciatingly hot it was where I was standing when I said “if any of you get too cold, feel free to come up and stand next to Holly, because it’s hot up here. You’ll thaw right out.”
Then, I began introducing Holly by talking about the organization she represents and their good works. As I was doing so, my inner voice was screaming at me. “Did you really just accidentally imply that it would be a good idea to stand next to this woman to warm up?”, I asked myself. I had to admit to myself that I did.
Yeah. Right there on the edge of sexual harassment. Not good. I just wanted to comment about it being warm in the front of the room.
I’m serious this time. No more introductions.