Thursday, April 12, 2012

Scared Spitless

I've spent the day writing so I'm kind of wrung out.

I thought I'd let you in on a secret about the presentation on Pride that I wrote about yesterday. Celine, in the comments said that I looked 'contemplative' before starting. There's a story behind that. Just as we pulled onto the Gardiner Expressway heading to Saint Catharines I said to Joe, 'You put the talk in my wheelchair bag, didn't you?' Joe said, 'Yes, I'm sure, but go ahead and double check.'

He didn't.

We were wedged in in traffic, going home wasn't an option.

I don't ever, ever, ever speak without notes.

Even if I never look at them, they are there to guide me. They give me reassurance. They keep me on track. I NEED them.

I dug around and found a notebook, one given to me in England, a little black one with the initials 'chp' on the front. I love this little book as it reminds me of meeting amazing people doing amazing things with amazing commitment. I keep the notebook with me, for when I need one, but I've never written in it because I wanted it as a 'forever' kind of thing. I know, that's silly, but when something meaningful happens, I need something to remind me of it. (I've used a 'keynote speaker' green ribbon as a bookmark for several years just to remind me of a keynote that I gave in Vermont many, many, years ago.)

I've never grown complacent as a speaker. I think my nerves make me careful. I always review a talk the night before. Review it in the quiet of an early morning, and review again after breakfast. So it was fairly fresh in my mind. I set pen to paper and wrote out, in my little black book, the lecture. As I did, different things occurred to me so I made additions and reorganized one section.

Maybe ten minutes later the traffic had freed up and my lecture was freshly written.

Or re-written.

Before I began I reviewed and reviewed and reviewed what I was about to do. I calculated the risk I was taking - deciding that I wanted to trust the stories and trust my audience - all of them - to go on the ride with me.

So, it began.

And was done.

I got home and compared the lectures.

They had the same framework but there was a slightly different emphasis. A braver stance on accountability. A call for all of us - service providers and parents - to join in the idea of disability pride. I don't know where that came from, maybe freeing myself from what I thought I should say to do what I really wanted to say, was a good thing.

So, Celine, that's why I looked contemplative - it's good to know that I look thoughtful when in fact I'm scared spitless sitting in front of notes cribbed from a left behind lecture.


John R. said...

It is funny Dave..I am the opposite, as you will see in June. I cannot have notes anywhere near me. They throw me off track. But, as a speaker and presenter, I too get very tense before I go. I tend to channel my message and my nerves through the energy I give a group. Your incredible story telling coupled with the content and depth of your stories bring such power to your presentations. Add to that your obvious passion and conviction, then you got a powerhouse of a speaker.

I guess notes or no notes the speakers and presenters and orators who impact people are ones with sincere belief in the subject matter they are espousing.

I am sending you a link on private e-mail to watch that is all about what I am so uneloquently trying to is all about "why" you present what you present that people respond to....

Celine said...

You didn't look remotely uncomfortable - just peaceful. So you certainly had us fooled. I did spot Joe running around at one point and he looked a little frazzled :)

Here's another perspective on what the day was like if you're interested...

Kris S. said...

WOW, Dave, you have just described a scenario about which I have nightmares! Not glad it happened to you, but glad you figured out a way to overcome your forgotten lecture notes.