I had my first-ever speaking engagement on the weekend.
It was a little nerve-wracking, but worthwhile.
I’ve been attending IPAC (Independent Publishers Association of Canada) meetings for about a year now. They meet the last Saturday of the month (except for June, July, August and December) for an 8:30 breakfast meeting at the Danish Canadian Club in Calgary. We eat and socialize and then at 9:00 the meeting begins with everyone introducing themselves and describing the projects they are working on. Then we move into the topic for the meeting which usually involves a presentation related to the publishing industry. People are invited to linger and visit as long as they like after the presentation.
Last October was an informal meeting where we all sat in a circle and spent the three hours sharing snippets of our individual self-publishing stories. It was a wonderful, intimate meeting with a lot of helpful nuggets shared and led to the idea of asking three IPAC members to share their stories in more depth in one of the 2012 meetings. I thought it was a great idea.
And then I was asked if I would like to be one of the three presenters.
Massive intake of breath!
I was a newbie at this. Every meeting saw me furiously scribbling down anything that passed the lips of the more seasoned self-publishers in the room. What could I possibly have to share with them?
John Breeze, the charming man who takes care of IPAC memberships and who was chairing the meeting that day, assured me that my story was just as valid as anyone else’s as he wrote down my name for the January meeting.
I decided to trust that there would be someone in the room even newbier than I, who would glean something beneficial from my story.
As luck (?) would have it, I was the first to present. We were sitting in a circle again, so I remained in my seat, with my notes on the table in front of me, and told my story.
They were a very kind and receptive audience. Their generosity became abundantly clear when, at the end of my presentation, I stated that now that the book was in hand I was faced with (for me) the most daunting and least enjoyable part of it all – the marketing. At that point, they started tossing out suggestions: people and organizations to contact for speaking engagements and interviews and the like. It was amazing. Once again, I was scribbling like mad. I’m not sure if I offered any information of value or not, but they certainly showered me with valuable suggestions.
And it continued on into the break.
One fellow told me speakers generally stand up when they are addressing an audience and gently chastised me for covering my mouth with my hand when I spoke.
A lovely woman suggested that instead of just having a table in the foyer at the Teachers Conventions (an idea tossed out earlier), I needed to submit a proposal to be a speaker at those Conventions. Ack!
Vera Goodman, who is already an accomplished speaker (she was the second presenter that day) offered to take me under her wing and give me some pointers.
And another man told me in no uncertain terms that I need to check out the Calgary branch of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. In retrospect, I’m not sure if he was so adamant about that because he saw speaking possibilities for me or if there were many more faux pas that needed fixing than merely hiding behind my hand.
I came away from that meeting exhilarated and a little off-kilter.
What was with all this speaking stuff all of a sudden?
As I pondered, I remembered the list of Turtle Dreams goals I had written down in December (read here for a great story about the power of goal setting) and remembered that one of my goals was to have one speaking engagement per month in 2012.
I marvelled at how these things had already started to fall into place. IPAC in January. The Red Hat ladies in February. And now, thanks to the support of my IPAC peers, I had a page full of suggestions to follow up on.
And then I pulled out the list to remind myself what other goals I had written down and discovered that what I had actually written was ‘one speaking engagement per WEEK from February-on.’
I must have been high on life and possibility (or something) when I wrote that down!
But then, again, something’s been nudging me in this direction for awhile now. Look what I put on the back of my Leaf business card last summer:
There’s a quote that says “take one step toward your dreams and they will take ten steps toward you.”
I want to introduce you to the other two speakers that day: Vera Goodman and Nancy Doetzel, both very dynamic ladies who stood up when they talked to us.
Vera began her presentation with a hilarious true story about being dragged along a luggage conveyor belt to certain death. She credits her leather pants and the lucky arrival of an airport worker, who knew which button to push, for her salvation. It’s a great story in itself that is heightened considerably when the person telling it is 77 years old and dressed in her signature leather pants.
This story dovetailed perfectly into Vera’s presentation about the conveyor belt that relentlessly transports non-readers to certain failure while well-meaning adults stand and yell unhelpful advice instead of pushing the button to stop the misery and introduce something that actually works.
Vera is passionate about reading and writing and children. She has published three books: Simply Read!, Simply Write!, and Simply Too Much Homework. Her latest project is an on-line course that teaches parents how to help their non-readers become avid readers.
The last presenter was Nancy Doetzel, another dynamic speaker with an incredible life story that she shares in her book, Old Heart Child Eyes: A Diary of Miracles.
The questions Nancy always asks herself is Does my work spark the spirit in another?” She certainly sparked my spirit, beginning with her description of winning ‘The Ugliest Girl Award’ in elementary school and continuing with her near death experience as a child and on to her adult determination to participate fully in a ballroom dancing event in the States despite an urgent call from her Canadian doctor telling her to come home immediately for an emergency procedure. She ended by sharing a recording of the song she wrote as she danced with her husband that day, not knowing what awaited her once she walked off the dance floor.
Three very different women. Three very different presentations.
One very enjoyable meeting.
Thank you, IPAC.