Last Friday we held a special supper to mark Intake 30's final scheduled workshop on their Henley MBA programme. These events are invariably held in a private dining room, away from the main restaurant, and the intimate atmosphere leads to some really good conversations, where the personality of the group loosens its tie, relaxes a little and compares notes on what's what.
We usually invite either the Principal or a member of the Senior Management Team along to speak during coffee, and they usually are only too happy to accept. Hearing about the history of Henley, combined with the 'horse's mouth' version of our future strategy is always appreciated and is part of the glue that will stick our alumni to Henley. However, this time and for a host of unforeseen and unforeseeable circumstances, foreign travel, and prior engagements, all my usual speakers were unable to make it.
But then I thought, well, you're the Director of Studies, you should be able to step up to the plate and deliver at least part of the Gospel according to Henley. I don't find it difficult standing up in front of a group, but when I do so, it's nearly always as a trainer or facilitator of learning. As a speaker, in that setting, the dynamic was quite different and I have a new-found respect for those who can do it well. I know that I can learn how to do it well, too, I merely hope that this intake will forgive me practicing on them.
I've noted that in order to gain the space to improvise and hold your audience, you actually need to be quite formulaic in your preparation. There really is, for example, a rule of three, and you really can elicit a reaction by keen observation of several other conventions.