There’s a workshop I’ve been delivering for ages, on and off. It’s actually pretty good. When I was learning it, the day before my first one, I drove up to watch someone deliver it somewhere in the Black Country. He did a good job – made something quite bland very palatable – and afterwards I gave him a lift to the station and picked his brain.
“The layout in the PowerPoint they send you isn’t helpful,” he says to me. “I just rearranged it until it made sense to deliver.” He was speaking from experience. This guy does workshops pretty much as a full time job so he knows it. Me? I’m just moonlighting. But yes, useful. I find that based on the reality of the room I’m in and what’s available, the time I have and the type of people taking the workshop, I tailor the content. They like to surprise me with weird timings or mixed ages. I’ll often skip sections or dwell longer on more practical parts if I think the room will hold focus. There are some long videos they have if you really need filler but I prefer to avoid them as for the most part they involve catastrophically boring people telling you that something dull they do is “exciting”. My job is to inspire these people and the videos don’t help in that regard. We are working towards Net-Zero. These workshops are part my platform to do some of the little environment rants you occasionally see popping out of me here on my limited platform when I’m tired. It’s all part of trying to make the world a better place and trying to help people easily be more considerate.
It was with some trepidation that I opened the latest pile of emails after work today. The people in the office have been having meetings. These are humans with no idea how it is to actually run the damn workshops, but they are very involved in the content. The whole event opens with a very sketchy video of an actor who hasn’t learnt their lines delivering words in the idiom of an older generation. The next five minutes after I’ve played it usually involve me having to claw back the interest of a room that has just been slightly discouraged. You need to start strong, dammit.
“Have they changed the starting video at last?” No. No they haven’t. Urgh. “New content “. They’ve just rearranged some slides again and had an idea about another thing to add that, as far as I’m concerned is not hugely interesting for anybody but the people who came up with it. I avoid offices but I get the sense that over 50% of the work done in them is just people having to do something instead of doing nothing even though nothing really needs to be done. Nobody asked us what needed changing or even if it needed changing…
This morning I got up at 6, had breakfast and drove to Middlesex. I was finished by eleven and home at noon. I was really proud of how it went. Totally won the room, lots of interest, great engagement. Smashed it. Then all these emails. It’ll be fine and really this job is only a few times a month, but it might start being more now I’ve got that big electricity bill. I guess if it does fill more of my time I just need to suck it in. I already lost one great day job on the boats by being too visible. It’s the office people who pay me. I’ll honour what they want from it and keep my head down. But… well I’ve never been very good at sucking it in or pleasing office people. Respectful thoughtful and practical disobedience is my happy place, (and wide open spaces under the sun.)
I’ll have to restrain myself from writing an honest email if it ever occurs to them to ask the people who deliver it for feedback on the new content… I could maybe break my habit and be tactful if they do. Onwards for now.