The following dramatization may or may not fully represent the cycle some (*cough*) speakers go through before, during and after an event.
Stage One Oh wow--this sounds like such a fantastic event! Love the concept. Love the audience. Topic is right in my sweet spot. So honored to be invited. I can't wait.
Stage Two Bio & headshot? I hate writing bios. Can I send what I've been using for the past decade? Yes, a lot has changed but did I mention how much I hate writing my own bio? Can I successfully extract a decent headshot from this family photo?
Stage Three Description of my talk? It seems so incredibly far away. (Brainstorm cool title, scratch, rewrite, repeat until the very last moment it needs to be submitted. Scribble description that's compelling, yet vague enough to change the content direction at least 9 million times)
Stage Four Holy smokes! It's when?!?? What did the description I sent say again? WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?? I'm such an idiot.
Stage Five Cancel all extracurricular activities. Hole up in office. Stare at blank sheets of paper. Re-readPresentation Zen, Confessions of a Public Speaker and an unhealthy amount of blogs on successful presentations. Why did I sign up for this again? I hate speaking. (Write blog post about the insanity of preparing to speak)
Stage Six **And then a miracle occurs** (Light bulbs go off. Heavenly choirs can be heard) This is going to be so cool. I can't believe I get to do this as my job. I love speaking. The audience is going to love this. I'm so excited. (Much enthusiasm now around building slides)
Stage Seven (Day before event) This sounds so stupid. They're going to hate me. I'm tired of hearing the sound of my own voice. Why did I think this is cool? I hope no one shows up.. and all recording devices break so there's no evidence of my ineptness. I wonder how bad it'd be if I left the country for a few days.
Stage Eight (15 mins before event) I don't believe I should drink anymore Red Bull. Or eat anymore candy, lest I go into a sugar-induced coma. Or talk at a billion mph. What if no one comes? What is the sound of one hand clapping? What if that one hand doesn't even clap? Why isn't Keynote working right???
Stage Nine (Immediately post-talk) That sucked. I suck. I can't believe people were interested in that. I'm such a poser. The people who followed up were probably just being nice. I should go poke my own eyes out now.
Stage Ten (After talk) Wow--I can't believe all the great feedback I keep hearing. Maybe it went better than I thought? It sounds like it really helped a lot of people. They want me to come back? Really? Wow. That is so cool. I love my job.
I've been sitting at my keyboard for a little while now, and my heart
is just so heavy. It's rare that I find myself without something to
say, but I can't seem to find the right words.
My friend, Mark Horvath from InvisiblePeople.tv is currently driving all over this fine country of ours (again), championing the stories of homeless people.
When we first met, I imagined the typical stereotypes of who these people were.
Drug addicts. Bums. Losers who prefer to panhandle instead of work.
When I took time to listen, my world was changed. One of the fastest
growing groups of newly homeless people are previously middle class
families hit hard by the recession. And kids.
Last night Mark met Sergi. It was his 18th birthday and first night homeless. Looking at his picture, I thought of my own almost-18-yr-old son.
And I want to scream
How can this happen? Where is the rest of his family? Doesn't ANYbody care? Or see how wrong this is?
I don't have the answers. But the frustration churning inside me about the sheer insanity of it all is more than I can bear.
The best way I can sum it up is in a tweet Mark posted this morning.
"We don't need random acts of kindness. We need deliberate acts of compassion"
If you want to learn more about Mark's travels (thanks to the
generosity of Ford, Hanes, the Pepsi Refresh project & other great
sponsors) click here. To learn more about InvisiblePeople.tv click here.