A little delayed I’m afraid – an unexpected housefull…again!
The day dawned. I felt surprisingly calm. I couldn’t resist prodding myself mentally to see if it was true composure. But sad to say it was still the same old me, unfortunately no overnight transformation, and without too much effort I could still whiz up the old heart beat!
I arrived at the venue early, to familiarise myself with the unfamiliar. The lecture hall wasn’t as daunting as I’d expected; it was modern – low ceilings with gently banked seats in calming green – there was soft hidden lighting, good acoustics and quiet carpeting. On the podium stood a lectern, solid and comforting, which incorporated every technical aid. Behind the speaker were three impressively large screens for presentations…there was also a fully equipped projector room and human technical assistance!
The organisers, speakers and chairs began to arrive. Introductions were made, last minute hitches ironed out whilst absent key speakers and mislaid presentations were located. The lack of projected red in the spectrum was thankfully corrected after hysteria erupted in the ranks (I had suddenly acquired blue/black cattle, faded blue ragged-robin, grey-blue orchids – amongst other things!). I couldn’t have asked for a better chair either – Jayne was full of encouragement and support, totally understanding of my over-active heart and adrenalin-induced panic…though she wasn’t too enthusiastic about the knockout smell of my herbal tincture! With all the initial organisation organised it was off to lunch in the main conference building where delegates had been arriving all morning.
All too soon (or not soon enough – anticipation was having a detrimental effect) we were back in the lecture hall. Beta-blocker free (I’d decided against them) I sat in the front row counting down the interminable seconds of the three speakers before me…5…4…3…2…1…and I was on!
Notes, pretty-picture presentation loaded (I’m not a powerpoint trained speaker), water…help no water…there it was on the table four feet away! Oh well, too late, I’d have to manage. The lectern, still solid and comforting, though the array of technical detritus no longer made any sense. I stared out at the audience…paused, breathed and gathered myself. Heart was in overdrive, to me the noise and movement of it were overwhelming – good god, I thought, they’ll never hear me over this!
So I began, mouth dry, stomach in some unreachable place and eyes trying to focus…Interestingly I could see the audience clearly but my notes when I glanced down had turned into a ‘grotesque’ of gesticulating spiders – in fact everything in my near vision was quite incomprehensible! But somehow the words did come out…not that I remember much. And then it was over. I stepped down, numb and blind. The final presentation passed in a haze, I came to as the chair summoned us back for questions. Heart and stomach in place, sight restored, mouth normal and tongue dexterous I arrived on the podium as a functioning human being!
I was so surprised by the follow-up reaction. I was received well. People felt I talked with confidence(?)…and passion. Interestingly another excellent speaker echoed very similar thoughts and messages to mine and it was these more controversial views which turned out to be an important outcome of the conference.
But sadly I can’t say I felt any sense of achievement or triumph. Though this may change with time. I am, I know, a perfectionist, but one day when I step down from the podium I will feel elated and fulfilled…though for now it’s back to the drawing board.
Anyone out there want a speaker?