How to Stay Calm When Things Go Wrong

Red button - Panic

Yesterday, I was an organizer for one of our weekly webinars for our FreedomIQ Cloud Phone System partners. We hold these regular sessions to help ensure our partners are able to support their customers in the best way possible. Putting on a live show can be nerve-wracking; few people love public speaking (count me as one of them), but I’ve gotten used to it over the last 100 webinars or so. I’ve always been a firm believer in getting outside your comfort zone and trying something new both personally and professionally, and I think experiencing the unexpected is what keeps you calm when things go wrong. After all, no one ever did anything great by sticking with what’s familiar.

With that said, there’s no faster way to leave your comfort zone than when things go wrong. It’s what separates big-league pitchers from minor leaguers – when you get into trouble, can you get yourself out of it?

During the webinar, we had a technical error resulting in our presenter getting logged off of his machine and leaving our audience with dead air. Ironically, our “working with FreedomVoice Customer Care” webinar was on the slide about what to do when a partner needs FreedomVoice support:

don't panic

Fitting, eh? (It’s NHL Playoff season, ehs happen)

1. Don’t Panic

Whether you have a sales or support call that isn’t going well, or have been disconnected from your webinar, don’t panic! Take a deep breath and collect yourself. A recent study showed participants who had high anxiety levels performed worse in memory and cognition tasks than those with low anxiety levels (Link). If you’re panicking, you’re not thinking clearly – and if we go back to our baseball analogy, you’d probably throw a meatball right down the middle.

Some people are able to stay calm naturally, others have to experience the panic first before graduating to calm. I still vividly remember replacing an injured pitcher in extra innings with the bases loaded of a Legion baseball game. Despite the fact that I a) wasn’t a very good pitcher and b) had pitched the day before, the team needed me to step to the rubber when I was least expecting it. I hurried my warmups and remember feeling anxious and unprepared for the situation. The result: I hit the first batter I faced with my first pitch to walk in the winning run. Game over, but lesson learned. Always be ready.

2. Information Gathering

Congratulations, you’re not panicking- that’s half the battle. Now you can figure out just what the hell is going on.

In today’s webinar, I could see our presenter was disconnected from the presentation – not an ideal situation to say the least. Identifying the problem is a fundamental step towards solving it. As we can see from the slide posted above, our Customer Care team takes the same step when supporting partners; they need to know the details of any issue before they can come up with a resolution.

3. Problem Solve

When things go wrong you have to think fast, but you need to be calm. We already established that panic clouds your thoughts. Another sports analogy would be that you can’t catch the ball without first looking at it. Obvious advice but even Ozzie Smith dropped a few on his way to 13 Gold Gloves.

In today’s webinar, I was in the same building with our presenter. After discovering what had happened and establishing that he was unable to log back in on his machine, I was able to download his presentation to my computer and finish the presentation. This process left a little more than 4 minutes of dead air which to me felt like an eternity, but being able to get things back on course and to finish what we started was a far better outcome than having to end the webinar prematurely and reschedule.

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