Mozart’s Fifth: Dah, dah, dah, dah!!!!

Tension is mounting.

I rehearse my script one more time while delivering the message over our loft wall down below to the pretend audience.

It’s the third time this morning I’ve gone over this presentation. Last night I made last minute changes in the structure of the message, even though I already sent in the handouts to the program director last week after taking several hours creating the draft, the revision and final piece. Last night I kept getting lost when making my transition from point one to point two, and now with the added revisions it seems to work. If I remember those changes.

I double check the time – this run it seemed about 38 minutes. Should work. I was given 30-45 to work with, and I am not rambling off topic anymore. I have the pitches I want to make in the conclusion for “call to action”, the stack of business cards that I may need if listeners actually want my business, and I’m ready to re-makeup, grab coat, keys and directions and leave.

I think it will be good. As I pull out onto my route I grin, knowing that unless I feel some tension, I expect a flat delivery. That tension, which others call butterflies, will soon be transformed into excitement. Can’t wait. The audience deserves to be riveted.

I pull into the parking lot, find my way into the building, feel the program director grab my arm as he introduces himself and apologizes for not expecting such a huge turnout.

“We take time to go around the room introducing ourselves. Is that okay? Will it give you the time you need?”

“How much time does this usually take, Jim?” I ask.

“Oh, about 35 minutes or more. It will take longer today.”

The program is designed for 1.5 hours, so I feel it will definitely still work. I’ll get at least 30 minutes or more.

“Of course, Jim. That’s part of the program. Let’s keep it in.”

Mingling a bit with the crowd, I had only identify myself as the speaker a few times, which I prefered. Speaker anonymity makes general chit chat better. The emcee opened the event, turned to individuals who had announcements to share, then opened the floor from one side of the room to the other instructing attendees to hold a stuffed turtle while introducing themselves, then passing it on to the next person for them to take their turn.

These people had a lot to say, yet they gave me a chance to size up who was here, how they presented themselves and the experience was quite enjoyable. Suddenly it was my turn, and not knowing how much time I had, I simply focused on my excitement, the message and the group around me. We were on a roll, all eyes attentive.

At one point I turned to the facilitator and asked, “How much time is left?” I was moving into my third of three key points and he responded, “5 minutes”.

Okay then! Evidently I started speaking with 25 minutes left, so I made a quick appraisal of how to make the final point a note of interest instead of a major area of focus, summed up, gave my call to action and ended on a high note.

Done. Made my way to my seat among applause and grins, sat down and immediately the person next to me said, “That was fabulous. Just what I needed today.”

And judging from the additional 20 minutes it took me to leave others who took their turns shaking my hand afterwards, I could tell it not only was worth my preparation, it confirmed the need to take on my next step. National Speakers Association.

That night I opened an email sent by one of the audience members:

“Merri, I was in your audience today. I want to thank you for being the best speaker I have heard in a long time.”

Yep. It’s worth it to rework your message until it makes sense to you, understand it so well that you can extend it, simplify it, all based on the needs around you. I felt confident yet in tune with the audience, and it showed.

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On February 4th, 2010, posted in: Uncategorized by