In 1998, a mid-priced hotel chain launched an ad campaign that featured a memorable, oft-repeated, catchphrase.
I knew that if I ever stayed in one of their rooms, that I would be comedically obligated to use the catch phrase in a professional situation.
It’s my nature.
A decade later, my company booked a room for me in that hotel chain (the one with the memorable catchphrase). The hotel was a short drive from The US Military Academy at West Point, where I would lead software-training sessions over the following two days.
I ached to use the line, but didn’t know if West Point was the appropriate venue.
I wasn’t worried about decorum as much as the fact that the hotel was so close to the campus. SOMEBODY, maybe a 100 people, probably had already tried that line before.
At the last nanosecond, I decided to deploy the catch phrase. I could deal with the groans, the side-eye glances, or even an order to do pushups.
After I was introduced, I looked around the room—at the captains, lieutenant colonels, and civilians seated at conference tables arranged in a giant ”U” shape.
I took a deep breath and I began my session:
”I don’t know anything about SharePoint, but I DID stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.”
I was surprised about how well the line was received. Apparently nobody had used that line in the presence of these audience members.
This was one of the most-formal settings in which I’d ever presented, yet I had never felt more at ease.
What was your most memorable icebreaker?