Gather round, it’s story time. I hope you’re all sitting comfortably.
The Monaco Fiasco.
Two years ago I attended an Aspiring Solicitors’ Springboard event. (They are amazing, by the way). Now, my group had to give a presentation- I can’t tell you what it was on or it’ll spoil the surprise if you go to the event- but let’s say we had to answer the question, ‘where will there be a boom in the energy sector in the next ten years?’
My commercial awareness wasn’t bad, but I had absolutely no idea off the top of my head. So I really wanted to go for somewhere in the UK. At least I had good general knowledge of the area! But there was a girl in my group who confidently stated we should choose Casablanca, in Monaco. (You can already tell where this is going). She talked so convincingly about the North African economy that I hesitantly went along with it.
Our presentation was…not amazing but passable. That was until someone quite rightly pointed out that Casablanca is not in Monaco. And Monaco isn’t in North Africa. My whole group turned in horror to look at the girl who suggested it, who said ‘MOROCCO, OH SORRY, I MEANT MOROCCO!’ The following question and answer session passed like a slow-motion car crash. Two years later I attended a Springboard event to help out, and one of the panellists said they still remember my presentation. It was that bad.
What did I learn from this?
I can now find Monaco and Morocco on a map in under 2 seconds. But more importantly- was this all the North Africa expert’s fault? No, of course not. Everyone can make mistakes and muddle information, especially when under pressure and without access to the facts (we weren’t allowed to use the internet). But she relied on us, her team, to fact-check her proposal. And instead of saying, ‘actually, I don’t feel good about our geography here,’ I stayed quiet. Why? Because I did not feel as confident as she looked. But people looking confident does not mean they are right. And people looking confident does not mean they are confident. It’s just a look.
When you’re stood in front of an audience giving a presentation, you are all equally responsible for the information you present. So if you are not 100% sure about something, and there is no way to fact-check, pitch to the group a different idea- one you can all get behind.
Bridget Jones And The Blinds
Around the same time (it was apparently a very embarrassing period of my life), I attended an open day in a big, swanky international law firm in London. Everything was going fine. My group had just finished giving a presentation, and we were walking back to our seats. En route, my heel slipped down the air vent in the floor. I lost my balance and my arms went helicoptering backwards. I crashed into the metal blinds behind me and made enough noise to ensure everyone in the room got to watch me fall. Sadly, the window was about two foot away from the air vent so I couldn’t steady myself on it, and I clung to those blinds, doing some serious damage. Someone had to come over and detached me from the floor. (Not all heroes wear capes).
Skip forward a day, and BELIEVE IT OR NOT I received an email from the grad. recruiter welcoming my application to that firm (and not an invoice for the blinds!)
What did I learn from this?
I’m never going to spend more than £20 on heels again. Also, it taught me a lot about confidence.
If you’re like me and you have the Bridget-Jones-genes, you can’t rely on yourself not to do something embarrassing. What you can rely on, is that you are going to pick yourself up (literally), laugh, and get over it. It’s not going to ruin your day. You’re going to perform your very best anyway. You’re going to make an excellent (and memorable) first impression. So draw confidence from the fact that no matter what embarrassing thing you do, you’re not going to let it throw you off. And trust yourself to make the very best of any awkward situation you find yourself in.