Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Speaking Engagement From You Know Where

This is a true story of the worst public speaking experience I have ever had. Now I speak in public a LOT, but this experience was truly awful.

From an old blog dated June 17th, 2009

Well, I spoke this morning at a local summer writing workshop run by a local library. Twelve young writer wanna-be’s were present and all in all, it was one strange experience.

First, let me say the therapeutic mascot animals that were present at the workshop were awesome. The cat was a Maine Coon and one of the most incredible examples of felinity I have ever had the delight to meet. The dogs were a purebred collie, a purebred basset hound, and a border collie mix.

However, when I was introduced as a member of the clergy and nothing else was said about me, I knew I was already dead meat on a stick. When you are in a profession that is below an Al Qaeda terrorist on the social scale and when the 12 children and 6 adults are only told that a preacher is going to talk to them, you already have an uphill battle.

I had already been reduced to 20 minutes to speak and the cat sat in a basket right in front of me. I told everybody how beautiful I thought the cat was and then was publicly chided by the group leader for not looking at the cat correctly. Evidently, I was staring at it too wide-eyed and so the first few moments of my presentation I was made to practice slowly blinking at the cat to convince it I was its friend.

It went w-a-y downhill after that.

I had index cards distributed to teach a writing technique that I use.

I was interrupted to be told that it was a writing “strategy.”

I smiled and continued.

Then I was told that the kids really did not need the index cards, but even the leader had second thoughts in mid-stream as somehow I was actually the invited guest (and speaking for free), so the kids were made to recopy everything on the index cards into their note books which ate up a lot of time.

I smiled and continued.

After that the next 20 minutes were my saying something and then the leader interrupting me and clarifying my position or “correcting” my errors. In one instance, I was rebuked in front of everybody for telling the children what “first-person” meant instead of asking them.

I smiled and continued.

It was a truly amazing experience of public humiliation.

The 20 minute presentation grew to 30 because I was committed to teaching the children something, of which I actually spoke maybe about 18 minutes.

When I was done, I thanked the children for their attention, praised the therapeutic animal program, encouraged them to think of the library as their second home, not become discouraged by rejection, that all good writers are also readers, and I was then escorted to the front door which was locked behind me.

All in all, it was an odd experience.

But I did get to pet a beautiful Maine Coon.

1 comment:

  1. See, your first mistake was not pointing out that the Mine Coon was the REAL leader of the discussion.