“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
On the surface, that quote from Robert Burns sounds negative, but when you look a little deeper, there is great truth. Embracing this truth is so much better than resisting it because if you’re promoting a book, building your platform, developing your brand, and using many of the tools common today, things are going to occasionally go awry. You’re going to make mistakes. Technology is going to fail. Other people…well, whenever there are other people involved, the chance of mistakes goes up. Of course, having a team helps us out tremendously and we need them, but it also increases the odds of mistakes happening.
So how can this truth be good?
Mistakes and problems that are out of your control will happen. Things will go sideways. The bigger question is how do we handle it, and how can we learn to handle it better the next time? Because, yes, there will be a next time.
Yet we cross our fingers and hope for the best that our technological tools will work beautifully, ignoring the possibility that things will go wrong and mistakes will happen.
The good news is that every mistake is an opportunity to do better next time. Now before you say, “That sounds very Pollyannaish of you, Joanne,” believe it or not, mistakes can actually provide a fabulous outcome. Haven’t you ever written a great draft of something, only to have it disappear for some unknown reason, and when you rewrote it, it was better than the first version? I know I have.
How we handle mistakes and problems, especially in public, shows professionalism, maturity, and experience.
Case in point
I had the pleasure of being interviewed this past week by another professional in the marketing industry (I’ll happily share that link once I have it.), and it’s an experience worth sharing because I think we can all learn from it.
You see, even when you’ve tested your entire system, you’re feeling confident, you’re good to go, things can still happen! How’s that for some foreshadowing?
First, when the host had me schedule via her online calendar, unbeknownst to either of us, it did not reflect the difference in our time zones, so an interview I thought was scheduled for 3:00 PM PST was actually set for noon PST/3:00 PM EST! Nothing told me otherwise, not the confirmation email, none of the autoresponders nor any reminders that were sent beforehand. They all said 3:00 PM Pacific Time. You can see the first problem.
Next, I tested my system long before the interview (or so I thought). It was around 11:00 a.m. PST and the external microphone I use with my Zoom system suddenly decided not to work. I was incredulous. Then the camera decided to opt out. Never mind the fact that both worked the day before, the week before, and even the month before, but that doesn’t matter when you’re preparing for an interview. What matters is right now. As I set about fixing these issues, my mic came back but I couldn’t get the camera back. No matter what I did, I kept seeing those ******* error messages!
What to do?? I quickly decided Plan B had to be put into action and that meant setting up another studio. I managed to do that but there were challenges, i.e., I had to figure out the lighting, the background, etc., all the while not realizing we were on in just a few minutes when I thought we had a little over 3 hours until showtime.
I sent the host an email asking if she would be sending a link soon, to which she replied that her computer was having issues and she would send ASAP. (She was having issues too!) Then I got a phone call from her sounding a little harried. “Did you get the link? We’re on now!’
“What? I thought it was at 3:00 PM?”
“Yes, 3:00 PM Eastern Time.”
You know how the rest of the call went. “OK, give me two minutes.”
Now, as someone who books interviews for people all around the world, I know about time zones. I am super picky and a little OCD that the times are correct for all parties, and yet this was still a problem. There were other issues…
Was my hair perfect?
Was my make-up perfect?
No. It was on at least, but a touch-up would have been nice.
But live is live and when the show is on the show is on.
I logged into the platform and off we went.
I could have been a frazzled mess, and earlier in my life, I would have been. I really thank my career in radio broadcasting for helping me to roll with the punches and to sound calm under pressure, but it wasn’t easy getting there. The only way to get there is through experience. Sorry to have to tell you that, but you most likely know this anyway.
What can we do to be prepared for those times when things go awry? Because they will…
- Have a Plan B, which may mean another little studio if you can pull one together. Even if you don’t have the components (or money) to do that, think about what you could do. Maybe your significant other has a laptop. Maybe a friend or neighbor.
- Practice doing mock interviews. Set up practice interviews with friends just as if they’re real interviews and treat them as such. If you have a problem of some kind, keep going and see if and how you resolve it.
- Have notecards nearby in case you’re live and your host freezes up on screen or disappears.
- Prepare stories to tell if you need them.
- If your mic goes out, can you call in and give the audio interview that way? Not ideal, but in a pinch, it could work.
- Add to this list. It is by no means exhaustive. The whole idea is to get you thinking about solving problems.
The point is to think about all the things that could go wrong and plan for it. Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best really isn’t the best plan. What would you do if…? Having a few ideas on how to resolve issues will at least give you some peace of mind.
Things happen. We have to accept it. Do your best to plan, and then be willing to let go of the result. By that, I mean let go of the anxiety that these mishaps can create. We never perform at our best when we’re anxious. Laugh, and laugh a lot. Remember, it may make a good story later on that you can use on your blog or another interview you do.
To your success!
P.S. And remember, you’re getting better all the time.
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