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How to Change a Room

What do you do when you walk into a situation where the deck is stacked against you?

This happened to me a few weeks back when I was delivering a keynote for a health care organization. Right before I was to go onstage, the organization gave a moving tribute to Brenda, the long-standing and much-beloved Executive Director who recently passed away. Nearly everyone in the room knew Brenda. They loved her. They missed her dearly. It was the first conference without her, and her absence was deeply felt. Tears flowed freely as the slide presentation ended.

"And now, let's welcome to the stage our opening keynote speaker, Theresa Rose."


I had two choices in that moment: 1) Ignore what happened and bravely plow forward, or 2) honor their grief and transmute it into joy.

I chose #2.

While I was watching the video of a legend I did not know, I could feel the room falling into deep sadness (something that most motivational speakers would agree is NOT an optimal audience mindset). My mind quickly raced as to what my options were. Panic threatened to overtake me. Remembering what I share about mindful productivity, I closed my eyes, took some big belly breaths, and asked my quiet mind what the audience needed. I got a quick response: "You are beautiful."