The pressure to perform - ESOMAR CEE FORUM in Prague

I had the pleasure of participating at the 2nd annual Central Eastern European (CEE) ESOMAR Forum in Prague as a speaker on March 18th; my subject was ‘digital market research in CEE’ and was asked to use case studies of Digital (online) Research we conducted in the region. Included in my presentation were two projects we did in Poland and one in Russia using online qualitative research: we used online community tools such as video diaries, bulletin boards, online focus groups etc.I was on the Fast Track so I had 15 minutes to present 10 slides; all seemed fine, up until the moment I was asked to join the stage…

I consider myself an OK presenter having 18 years presenting experience of market research insights to back up the confidence. The pressure was on from earlier because a presenter competition was announced and the voting was going to happen through a mobile App.

To start with, I was thrown off because the technical team showed the second slide of my presentation and instead of going back to the first - to share my “powerful” and carefully planned introduction - I started with a not so powerful ‘contents’ slide. I then went on with what was planned but I think I may have alienated the ladies in the room when I had shown a video clip of a Polish lady in the bathroom sharing her morning bathroom routine on video for an online ethnography project (Netnography). Although there was nothing inappropriate in the video, I made a comment that we were surprised that the women in this project were so forthcoming with showing us the insides of their mouths while they brushed their teeth; I knew something wasn’t right when the Chairperson of the session made a comment that we should also be showing some video clips from research on men. On top of all the things that went wrong, I was very conscious of the countdown clock and reached my last slide as the time was almost up and starting going in the RED; for some reason, the RED got me extremely stressed – which probably had something to do with the speakers’ briefing - and as a result, I concluded with an abrupt “Thank You” missing out on my “powerful” and carefully planned closing. I do not know exactly how and why all this happened but by the end of the conference I was kicking myself for my performance; I still had a glimpse of hope that some of my negative moments lived only in my imagination. I ended up sharing the 9th/10th position with another presenter out of 12 that received votes.

The President of ESOMAR was very kind and came up to me to congratulate me for my presentation: I mumbled something along the lines….”I only said half of what I was planning to say”….”I wouldn’t have known it” was his rightful response.

Despite all this, three of the few prospective clients in the room came up to me and asked to receive more information about social media research in specific and online market research in general. This made all my investment in time and money worth the effort.

Maybe you can share your views on similar situations when you were under pressure to perform and how you handled it. If you were in Prague at the conference or viewed my presentation through live streaming then I would welcome your thoughts on that as well. I, like most people, usually like to share my positive moments in a professional setting and very rarely make it a point to share something not as positive, like my performance as a presenter at the CEE Forum in Prague; It feels cathartic but then again who knows what the impact of this openness can be.

 




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