July 6, 2011

Always bring your A game

Best Benedict in town at Savoy Cafe
My husband and I used to have breakfast on Sunday mornings at a local restaurant. We loved the food, the service, the atmosphere, and being "regulars." Then some things changed in our schedules and we started going on Saturdays instead. Something was different... Service was slower, orders came out wrong more often. Why so frequently on Saturdays, but so rarely on Sundays?

Hubby called it "the B team." Having worked in the food industry for decades, my husband was well aware of how restaurants and retail stores staffed their shifts. Saturday was not as busy a day for breakfast as Sunday, so the newbies and slackers worked Saturday and the veterans (the A team), due to seniority and the ability to handle bigger crowds, worked Sunday.

And the customers aren't the only ones who suffered. As long as the B team brought the lesser game, they also got fewer shifts and smaller (or nonexistent) tips.

The poor service and the coinciding opening of a restaurant (that served breakfast) by a friend of ours caused us to stop patronizing our original breakfast place. Sometimes I miss going there, but unless we switch back to Sundays, we can be pretty sure we'll always get the B team, bringing their B game. And the B game just isn't good enough.

Have you ever justified not preparing or practicing for a speaking engagement by telling yourself, "It's only going to be a few people" or "None of the bigwigs will be there" or "I'm doing it for free"? In essence saying, "This is a B gig and I'm bringing my B game."

It doesn't matter how big or small your audience is, or whether you're getting paid or not, or whether someone "important" is attending (or whether it's Tuesday at 3:00 or Sunday brunch), you always have to bring your A game.

Why does it matter?

1. Every audience deserves your best. They are giving you their time and maybe their money to come hear you speak. They are hoping they are using their time wisely to learn something new or gain some new, valuable insight. Don't disappoint them.

2. Every speaking engagement is a chance for you to improve your skills and confidence. Why waste this opportunity by throwing away your presentation?

3. You never know who your audience members will talk to. So no bigwigs are there, or there are only a few people. If you do a good job, you will likely be recommended to other groups, where maybe you will be noticed by someone important or someone who can pay you. Do a half-ass job, and you can guarantee that no one in the audience will refer you or offer you another gig.

Always give your audience your best, no matter who it is. Bringing your B game will only bring you B engagements (whatever that means to you: non-paying, low-profile, low respect, etc.). Bringing your A game even to B engagements will earn you respect, for one, and consistently better gigs.

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