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Focus on Flexibility

It’s 07.41 on the day of the event I have been planning for months and I get a text message saying, ‘I don’t want to let you down, but…”

Sam Rathling, my wonderful keynote speaker for the evening has been struck down with gastroenteritis and is in no fit state to speak later that evening. Naturally concerned for Sam’s health I wished her a speedy recovery. I was also of course really disappointed as I wasn’t going to see my good friend either. We had planned some time together either side of the event.

So I needed a replacement speaker at very short notice. Many people had specifically booked on to the event to hear Sam’s talk so the speaker needed to be an expert on this specific topic. Strangely, I was not in the least bit worried. I was calm, relaxed and trusted that a solution would be found. Instead of reaching out to alternative speakers, I jumped onto my cross-trainer for 40 minutes.

I was right to just hold on and be patient. Within an hour, I had a call saying that Sam’s business partner, Chris Taylor, would be stepping up to the occasion and dropping everything to drive across the country to speak at the event. Et voilà! All sorted. Thank you, Chris.

However, at 14.31, I receive another message, “unfortunately I can’t come tonight. I’ve been in bed all day and just not feeling well enough to make it out tonight.” Another speaker unable to make it.

Again, unflustered I looked through the agenda, discussed it with my Vice-President and together we made some timing adjustments to ensure the evening would run smoothly.

The evening was a triumph and I received much praise across social media for the event.

“Well done Amy Rowlinson on a splendid PSA South East presidency, topped off with an excellent December 2022 Reigate spectacular - with a wonderfully judged mix of hard content of huge benefit speaker-business-wise and softer elements to generate an energetic swirl of fun!!! You've set the bar amazingly high for your phenomenal three (yes 3!!!) successors over the next three (yes 3!!!) years!!!...This is a hard fun act for Rob May, Jo Lightfoot and at least one other to follow!!!”

Michael Dodd, PSA Fellow

It was my last event as President of the Professional Speaking Association for the South East region as I hand over the reins to Rob May midway through the January meeting. It’s been a privilege and a delight to run the region and I know with the commitment of the committee that PSA SE will be in very safe hands going forward.

Flexibility is the key to my message today. No matter how meticulously you plan something, circumstances out of your control will occur and it is how you respond to them that matters. Build a strong community and network around you. Know you have the support to ask for help when you need it. Be open to change. Change is the only constant!

Focus on Flexibility!


ACTION POINT - When the unexpected occurs, often at short notice, be ready to change your plans, be flexible!

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