A Dark Tale
I stomped the snow off my boots after I passed through the door to where I’d be speaking. One arm hung low as I nearly dragged my cloth bag filled with all the books I’d sell and all the tip cards I’d pass out to my listeners.
“I’m here to speak,” I called out to anyone who might be in charge. “If you could just show me the room to the–”
“Amy, over here!”
Over where? I heard a voice but my eyes needed time to adapt to the dark interior.
“Hang on,” I said, “Just a sec.'”
My eyes adapted at last and I saw Joe’s dim figure. He had arranged the speaking engagement.
Now that I could see a little bit, I realized I was in what looked like a grand wedding hall. High above me hanging from the ceiling, I saw glass chandeliers and the dim outline of tables with fancy place settings and cloth napkins.
I lugged my over-sized bag to where Joe was seated, crashing into a table and nearly knocking over what was sure to be a crystal goblet.
“Whoa! Careful! That bag’s a lethal weapon! What do you have in there, anyway, rocks?”
“Books, Joe, books.”
I extended my cane and suddenly, my cane came up against his cane! A smaller one. I recalled that he had had foot surgery recently.
“Joe, where’s our room?” I assumed he was waiting on me to take me there.
“This is it. You’re standing in the middle of it.”
“Um, it’s … dark.”
Considering my target listeners were men, this dark, dark hole could very well be a man-cave. Only a fancy wedding hall didn’t quite fit that image!
Seated at the head table, I tried to calm myself as I nervously skewered pieces of fruit on my fork and gulped them down barely tasting them. I hoped this part would get easier the more frequently I spoke. Once I started to speak, I would be fine.
I knew what I was going to talk about but I had upon the president’s suggestion, brought a PowerPoint presentation.
Now that it was time to use it, reading the screen was like squinting at a black sky filled with the Big and Little Dipper.
Words fit a particular pattern but discerning what that pattern was took too much effort. I caught a few words and guessed at the content, just like I did the placement of constellations when people pointed them out. Only once was I caught out when I said “Next screen,” and was still waiting for my book trailer!
Toward the end of my talk, I looked over to where Joe was. When I told him I was planning to use the timer on my fancy new phone, he assured me that he had the timing aspect covered. “I’ll give you a wave when you have five minutes to go,” he’d said.
I hoped I could see that wave.
I was on my very last sentence of a short selection I was reading from my book to whet my listener’s appetite. Joe stood up and said, “I hate to interrupt you but we’re out of time.”
Had I missed the wave? Or maybe Joe didn’t want to interrupt me. “That’s okay. I was done anyway.”
The president of the Men’s Club stood up. “I’d like to thank everyone for coming. Next week’s guest is….”
My jaw dropped down as the men clapped and the majority began to file out of the room. “Um-mm, my books! Joe, my books!” I squeaked. They were all nicely set out but completely hidden behind the large white screen.
No one had even mentioned that they were available.
Selling my books was the big draw since it was a non-paying speaking engagement.
I had included Braille alphabet cards and customized books marks along with the helpful tip card to give away with the sale of my books. I didn’t realize that at precisely 1:30 pm, I would turn into Cinderella.
“Next time, you’ll have to be choose a shorter reading,” Joe said, shaking a finger at me. “We all have to learn about timing.”
I grimaced as I refilled my bag. I had counted on it being so much lighter when I left.
Just as I finished loading my last book and set my twenty-ton bag at my feet, the president called out to me from the door, “Your book is on Amazon, isn’t it?”
I placed my hand on my heart as I heard those sweet words.”Yes!”
Maybe all was not lost. Maybe I would have one sale!
I left the building, bubbling over with excitement, happy that things had gone as well as they did.
My co-speaker asked me if I had any reflections on our speaking engagement. I thought it might be helpful to share what I learned with my followers, especially since some of them are also speakers. I welcome any other pointers as well.
3 Areas to Improve on:
1. Lighting – Always ask what it’s like in advance to adapt and problem-solve with those in charge.
2. Timing – Know in advance exactly how much time is allotted to speaking, questions, and and sales.
3. Book Placement – never conceal books. Be sure listeners know they are for sale in advance.
3 Positive Insights I Gained:
1. Compliments are always nice – I like to think that when someone said, “You’re like Robin Williams. Your mind works very fast!” that he meant my humor came through.
2. My voice carries – Somewhere along the line I lost my “teacher voice.” That day I found it.
3. I can still prepare a good lesson plan – with appropriate training aids to liven it up and increase understanding.
You have just read, “A Dark Tale,” February 17, 2015. © Copyright Amy L. Bovaird. If you enjoyed this post, LIKE, leave a COMMENT and be sure to SHARE! Thanks!