A Wednesday Afternoon

Wednesday afternoons didn’t usually work that well for Sue. It was her own fault really, she mused, as she walked along the advertising agency’s uplit corridor, a skinny latte in one hand and a bulging and expensive briefcase in the other. The lighting, she thought, delicate as it was, always made people look ill. This particular Wednesday was wet and miserable, the beginnings of winter she thought gloomily. No wonder people looked a little unwell.

Sue had set up her regular sales meetings to begin at two- thirty prompt. She always said that they’d be finished by three-thirty, but that rarely happened. To begin with, back when the meetings had started, all twelve of the team had turned up more or less on time and had stayed for the full hour. Now there was always an excuse from three or four, sometimes more, often the same people; and invariably, one of the others would just ‘have’ to leave early to do something far more important. So, she just had to grin and bear it really.

Today, she told herself, she was going to be firmer. Even though her presentations tended to be flat and dull – or so she’d been told - she didn’t have time to get any coaching even though it had been offered. She knew that her presentation techniques were weak but she just didn’t seem to have time to prepare anything.

Today it was the turn of Anton Kurisov to give a presentation on new business opportunities based on some fresh research. Anton was reasonably new to the agency and in his short time had made an impression. Although born in eastern Europe, his English was first class. He had made a good impression on two external coaching courses in public speaking. Sue wasn’t sure yet how Anton would do in the long term. Certainly, she thought, he needed to present his thinking on sales in a way that was clear and enjoyable. Tough luck on him, really, thought Sue who wasn’t certain of Anton’s ability to deliver.

At twenty past two, Sally walked into the meeting room called Beta. There were ten of the team ready and waiting. Sally was pleasantly surprised by such punctuality – and attendance. The last two people walked past her in a hurry as she stood at the door. Anton had addressed the group before twice and on both occasions, Sally had been absent, once with flu and the other… she couldn’t remember the reason for the other.

“Good afternoon everyone,” she said to the room.

Everyone mumbled and muttered replies. Some continued to doodle; others drained their coffee and someone was on the phone. She looked at Anton who was standing at the front of the room waiting and smiling.

“Sue,” he said. “Shall I start?”

“Oh, yes, certainly. No PowerPoint then?” asked Sue, concerned at the lack of equipment and papers in front of him.

“No PowerPoint, no,” confirmed Anton.

“Ok,” said Sue.

“We need to be done in twenty minutes.”

“We will be,” said Anton.

“Better start then,” Sue said. “Over to Anton…”

As if on cue, everyone instantly stopped talking, put down phones, cups, biscuits and pens - and looked up expectantly at Anton. He smiled and so did everyone in the room apart from Sue, who just looked surprised.