What happened at the first "She Means Business"? What always happens at conferences: The unexpected! Our host Talia Sanhewe did not receive her required visa on time, and I took a 36-hour crash course on how to be a presenter – a very personal account by Kerstin Wünsch.
. Everything had been prepared, excitement alternated with anxiety. At 13:16hrs, I received an e-mail from our presenter Talia Sanhewe sitting in the German embassy in Pretoria. She informed me that her visa couldn‘t be issued because it was still „on processing“ in the system and asked for help. Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Group, and I called on everybody for help: the German embassy in Pretoria, the German embassy in Berlin, the German Convention Bureau and German National Tourist Board, Lufthansa South Africa … and, yes, the German ministry of foreign affairs as well! We left no stone unturned and hoped for an "African miracle".
What a great experience to discuss with Karin, Mara, Susanne and Isabel – on stage. PHOTO: EVVC
MISSION I’M POSSIBLE? MY TOP 5:
1 Our Production Manager Miranda van Bruck! I couldn't have done it without her. 2 I was constantly in touch with Carina Bauer and Zuzana Chalányová of the IMEX-Team. 3 My boss Mark A. Cano put his trust in me. My husband Ulrich Wünsch believed in me and said: You're the presenter. You're the one that calls the shots on the stage! 4 Everybody made Plan B to their Plan A. Encouragement from all sides gave me strength. 5 Reliable technical service providers: Gahrens + Battermann and Slido. PS: I wanted to know if I'm up to it.
Simultaneously, we simulated Plan B. When Carina landed in Frankfurt at noontime Saturday, we knew that neither Talia nor any other presenter was in sight, and the choice fell on me! The good news was that I had more or less masterminded "She Means Business" and therefore knew the program and was very familiar with the sequence of events. The bad news? I had only 36 hours to prepare for a six-hour presentation. Our Production Manager Miranda van Bruck with The Content Studio was at the ready and sent me the detailed program schedule: after the VOG ("Voice of God") voiceover, there are three minutes for the address of welcome, one for Housekeeping, two for the supporting partners and associations, four for the Slido polling tool with introduction and test – each small moment wanted to be couched in terms. I then added my intros and closing remarks to the script for the eight speakers, for the "Women in Business" Talk, the Industry-Panel, the Round Table-Session with Wrapup and the Closing. Miranda thought I had done well, and so I put together my cue cards.
PHOTOS: IMEX GROUP, EVVC
In bed, I went through the motions in an infinite loop until I fell asleep. Sunday morning en route to Frankfurt, I put together a number of questions for Slido and the "Women in Business" Panel and went through my cue cards once again.
At the Kap Europa, everybody was delighted that the presenter had finally arrived. The expansive Saal Horizont room did have something of a daunting effect on me, and it wasn't made any easier looking down from the stage over the 1,040-sqm hall. My voice resounded in the seemingly endless expanse, which certainly didn't make things any easier. What about if the engineers forget to turn on my microphone when I walk on the stage – or even worse – fail to turn it off when I leave it? Miranda calmed me down; she ran the show, friendly but firmly, and I followed her lead. We rearranged the opening and welcome phase and went through my scenarios. I familiarized myself with the technology and the stage, the room and the engineering staff. Everybody knew what they're doing, a reassuring thought. Before I fell asleep that night, I again ran a mental simulation of the conference; I was simply too exhausted to consider running away.
Monday morning opened with the speakers' rehearsals. Thank God I knew almost all of them and they gave me loads of support. Karin Nordmeyer, UN Women, thought this was a great opportunity and she was delighted for me, which helped a lot. My production manager, the speakers and I went through each single session. We were all a bit excited, but everybody pitched in with enthusiasm. Why? This is "our" She Means Business. And when the Voice of God finally called my name, I was determined to make it a memorable success …KERSTIN WÜNSCH