A few weeks ago, I survived my first (of many, I hope, actually) speaking engagements. I met Cathy at a Wellness Fair and she invited me to speak before her group. I quickly accepted her invitation and just as quickly forgot about the event. Two months passed by and I received an email reminding me of my impending speech.
I was filled with panic and a bit of dread. What would I say? How would the audience respond? Would I remember what I wanted to say? Would I remain feisty?
I am a seasoned teacher so public speaking should no be a real issue but middle school adolescents seemed easier (believe it or not) to speak to than seasoned holistic practitioners (or so I thought).
I had spent about an hour outlining what I wanted to say. I planned to introduce myself as introduced THE Feisty Woman who also was a great auntie, an educator of nearly 40 years, a volunteer, and a life long learner of new things. I had planned to read sections from my book, discuss journal writing, and how those journals, now burned (fortunately) inspired my writing of the book. I planned to relay some of the funnier stories, and to end my talk with tales from my trip to Sedona (chapter 15).
A great plan or so I thought.
After punching the wrong address into my WAZE, I proceeded to drive around about the block on the first go around, landing up at a Chinese restaurant. I reset the device and landed up at the same spot two more times. Time to re-read the email, I thought. I had punched in the wrong address (8 instead of 18). After re-checking the e-mail, I correctly arrived at my destination, which was atop a narrow alley with no parking places anywhere. I circled around the block once again and found parking on the street. Of course, I had only two quarters, which allowed me a whopping 30 minutes of parking. (My talk would take at least that much time). Just then I saw Cathy who told me to come into the lot, which miraculously had cleared. After securing the spot, I had 5 minutes to spare until my speaking engagement was to begin.
I ran up the stairs to find only one person there. Seems that I was given the wrong time and had 30 minutes to kill among complete strangers. I knew no one and wondered if this was an insight into how my speaking would go that night.
I was pleasantly surprised and completely wrong about all of my woes and misgivings. Before I even began speaking, three audience members dared me to be as funny as my book. I smiled and was off and running with my feisty, funny stories, on-liners, and sharing my pure enjoyment of writing my book. I talked about my journey and how laughter really saved me (chapter 10, to name only one of many examples: they loved the clothing-toss, by the way.) That outrageous laughter resonated through all my stories of the many women mentioned in my book, from the beginning stages, the wallowing days of yore, to my solo vacation in Sedona.. They were especially impressed with the Mr. Wonderful doll that one woman shared with me at a local fair. I have not purchased said doll just yet, but I am seriously considering it, given the laughter that ensued as I mentioned this doll.
He became quite the topic of conversation as we all suggested additional lines for his limited vocabulary.
The night ended with an extensive question and answer period. In addition to Elizabeth Allen advice, many women offered their own advice to add to my book advice. We were all in support of each other and agreed that the male species is so very different from us that we wonder how civilization ever thrived. That is a question for another time.
I asked for any suggestions from them as my talk came to a close. They offered the following suggestions and comments:
“Sit closer to your audience.” I can do that .
“Speak without looking at your notes.” I have to work on this one.
“Your delivery is great.” Thank you.
“What a clever idea for a book.” Glad that you like it, so please buy a copy.
“ The cover looks just like you.” I have a great designer.
“I love the business card and book mark. Great brand.” Thank you.
“ This was fun”. Thank you.
Yes it was. I look forward to many more evenings like this one. And…”I will survive” to do more speaking and to spread the resilient, fearless, feisty stories of the women I have written about in my book. They would expect no less.