Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen - The art of being MC

I've spent the last three days as an MC at Work Safe Week at the Melbourne Convention Centre. One of the great things about being an MC is that you get to meet lots of really interesting people and learn from them. I've spent time learning about everything from manual handling risks and solutions to removing slip, trip and fall hazards; the impact of fatigue on safety at work to how injured or sick people think. I've chaired panels of Work Safe Inspectors and Health and Safety Representatives and there was never a moment when I was anything less than interested in what I was hearing.

There was a common passion all of these people had - the desire to make sure everyone comes home from work safely and the desire to support people in workplaces across the state to help make this a reality.

At the end of each presentation I facilitated a Q & A session. Generally people had genuine questions and were pleased to have the opportunity to ask and respectful of the people asking them. Occasionally, the soap box would be wheeled out and an audience member would ramble on with a story, or argue with the answer they had been given. On one occasion, an attendee attacked the panel on the quality of their presentation. My other favourite thing is when someone argues from the floor about whether or not they really need to use the microphone to ask their questions. Usually the audience will tell them that they do need to use it, as they struggle to actually hear what is being asked.

It's these moments that cause clients to congratulate themselves on the decision to hire an MC, presenters to thank the gods that they don't have to manage the situation. Other members of the audience will breathe a sigh of relief and silently (or actually) applaud when tricky audience situations are sensitively and firmly handled. It's moments like these that cause me to wonder what's going on for a person who feels the need to publicly have a go at volunteers who are serving their workplace community.

The Sufi saying about being aware that every single person you meet is in a silent battle with something that you don't know about, springs to mind.

One of the themes for the event was that change begins with a single action. I asked participants to consider what "one thing" they would do when they returned to their workplace.

My workplace varies wildly from day to day; often I'm at work at the kitchen table at home. My apartment was built in the days where each room only had one power point, so I have electrical cords running all over the place. I'm off to buy some gaffer tape and some extension leads so I can secure the cords out of the way and reduce my risk of a slip, trip or fall at home.

I spent the whole event working in the one room with the same tech guy. He was great to work with and instilled confidence in me and the presenters that he would make sure everything worked smoothly. I spent time every day talking to him and appreciating him; this morning I gave him a small box of chocolates to say thank you. He was chuffed. It was a small gesture that was easy to do and sincerely intended and I know that I have someone in my network who would not hesitate to recommend my work.

Did you go to the Work Safe Week event? What's the one thing you need to do in your workplace to remove a hazard or risk? Do you go out of your way to show appreciation to the people you rely on? How easy are you to work with?

And lastly, having spent three days in the MC role and contemplating my appearance on Million Dollar Minute (on the television in 8 minutes) I do wonder why game show hosts are usually male. Why is that?

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