Monday, April 16, 2007

three nametag day

I'm giving talks to three wildly different groups today.

I do a good bit of public speaking.
United Way of Central Indiana give me an award for the most "torchbearer" talks (and being the most requested speaker) last year - 26.
That number does not include the speeches I've given on behalf of Second Helpings.
Or tours I've given.
Or classes I've taught.

This morning I spoke to a high school class about community service.
I spoke to a room full of bankers at lunch.
I'm speaking to a Junior League meeting this evening.

How do you dress for all of that, you ask?

I wore the outfit I wore to attend church in Tekamah.
If it works in a Baptist church in Nebraska, it can work anywhere.

Throw a jean jacket over it for the school kids, as-is for the bankers and I'll pull my hair back for the Jr. League dinner.
That same outfit will also have to carry me through to a concert tonight.
Hair down, add some eyeliner and accessorize with the denim jacket and a beer -- I'll be good to go.

Talking in front of people still makes me nervous, but it usually goes well.
I'm a better extemporaneous speaker than when I have a talk prepared.
I do always have a note card with talking points with me if I freeze.
I make people laugh, and it's not easy to make hunger a happy subject.

I give a lot of talks in factories.
My Dad is retired from auto business and farming.
My brother has two factories that do injection molding and tooling.
I've always worked in restaurants.
Blue collar folks are my people.

I love it when I go somewhere and I have to put on a hard hat and safely goggles to get to the meeting site.
I adore the behind the scenes stuff.
I think I have a life time supply of earplugs from a company that manufactures them in here in Indy.
Not a bad thing to have when you review music.

I've also had some mishaps.
I could not find a place to park for a talk at the IUPUI (Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis) last fall. I went racing in to the room with a campus policeman at my heels telling me to move my car.
After I was given a pass, I ran back in to the room only to trip and fall in to the lap of Dean of the School of Philanthropy.
That wound up being one of my better talks and so much great stuff has come from it.

I gave a talk at a large factory that makes heating and cooling units. The United Way talk coincided with their quarterly meeting.
First BigCo told the employees that their health benefits were being cut, then they broke the news that they would not be getting overtime or a bonus.
Oh, and here's Nora.
Boy did that suck.
I stammered through the talk, thinking some of those folks might be needing the services of United Way soon.
I was happy to turn in my safety glasses and head out the door.
My cell phone rang as I was leaving the parking lot.
Could I come back?
The next speaker was wearing open toed shoes and was not allowed past the lobby.
Curses sensible shoes!
I headed back to the meeting room thinking I was better prepared for what was going to happen.
Same bad news to a different shift.
And here's...who?
A woman soliciting for a non-United Way agency.
She looked like every one's favorite grandmother.
She held up a photograph of her grandson that died of SIDS and was collecting money to buy cribs for poor people.
How do you follow that?
I gave the shortest talk ever, handed the sweet grandmother $20 and went home.

I was asked a few months later to come to the same company's volunteer and health fair.
I set up my little display and talked to who ever wandered by.
And not too many people wandered by -- I was not giving away any freebies.
There were a couple of guys that chatted for a while.
All of the sudden a woman was yelling to "stay away from her man."
I wondered who in the hell she was taking to.
Then I realized it was me.
Trust me, I had no designs on her man.
It did draw attention to my booth though.
That day could not end soon enough.

I packed up my stuff vowing to never come back to BigCo.
Not that they have asked me.

5 comments:

Cliff Morrow said...

1. Old men like pretty young girls who will pretend to trip and fall in their laps.
2. I too have done a sizeable amount of speaking but I would avoid a high school class like the plaque. Gutsy girl.
3. Nothing says sassy and classy like a beer.
4. Deliverying cooking oil into inner Chicago I had to put on paper shoes and a hair net to enter a nabisco plant far enough to talk to someone. Have you ever been made to wear a net??
Entertainment at it's finest here Nora.

Ralph's Homespun Headlines said...

Good stuff Nora. I've done quite a bit of public speaking myself and can tell you I'll take a fourth grade class over a city council meeting anytime. Fourth graders have a longer attention span.
I'm proud to say I have never fell in anyones lap.
Ralph

Rachel said...

You have had some experiences there Nora, both good and bad!! I think I would like the behind the scene stuff too. Speaking in front of people though...nope...I don't do that! I think I'd forget everything and nothing would come out of my mouth!! I could speak to a very small group, but let's keep it under 30!!

I'm sure the Dean of the School of Philanthropy didn't mind you falling into his lap!!

Rachel said...

Oh, I would have liked to see Cliff in the hair net!!! How funny that picture is in my mind!!!

Jerry said...

Nora,
You just brought back every fear that I've ever had about public speaking. Not that I've had a bad experience even close to any of those that you listed. Yikes!