On presentations, boardrooms and cultural differences

We were asked to repeat our presentation to the board at headquarters on a Tuesday morning.

What happened that day still blows my mind. We arrived exactly 15 minutes early, so as to have plenty of time to chat before our presentation. Assuming our 10-minute presentation + discussion should take no longer than half an hour, we expected to be on our merry way back to the city for our second lecture by 11am…

Instead, we were ushered into a holding area and kept waiting… for 45 minutes. I am not kidding.  “The board is still in their weekly meeting.” Sure. We were fuming.

This was not the first time we were kept waiting. This was also not the first time we were made to feel like our time wasn’t very important because, let’s face it, we are only ‘students’ with (what they assume) ‘nothing better to do’.

I decided to take a stand and make it clear that this kind of treatment was unacceptable if we were to continue an equal and respectful relationship. When one of the secretaries (who, bless her, had no fault in this) decided to check up on us to see if we needed anything, I had to let someone have it.

With the fires of Mordor snaking at my nostrils from within, I explained, in a level yet firm tone, that we had already sacrificed an important lecture in order to repeat a presentation (as a favour to them, no less) at their headquarters in the middle of nowhere on a weekday morning. Making us wait the better part of an hour for (what was later confirmed) no good reason whatsoever was, simply, rude and disrespectful. Finally, if they did not see us within the next five minutes, we would be leaving because, yes, we actually had other commitments (lectures to attend).

This whole time my fellow English teammates said nothing, a non-reaction I did not quite understand until my housemate Henry later explained that the Brits rarely say what they mean and that my reaction must have been more than enough on its own. And hey, it worked, because (lo and behold) 30 seconds and countless apologies later we were welcomed into the boardroom, nailed our presentation and were out of there in fifteen minutes. Like a boss.

Boom. That’s all I have to say on presentations, boardrooms and cultural differences for the time being. I will write again soon, until then I hope your have an awesome time! Wishing all the very best in 2012!!!

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