Monday, November 5, 2012

Critical Aspirations

When someone asks what I do I often say, “That depends: I do one thing for money and more interesting things for zero or negative money.”

It became clear when my book released two years ago that I would need to speak publicly, then one of my greatest fears. I had even selected college courses based on the likelihood I’d have to speak in front of the class. My friend, Bubbles, assured me I’d improve with practice, but I cowered under an assumption that speaking anxiety could never diminish.

But “coward” is banned from my Superman dictionary. I persevered.

I have come a long way from my terrorized voice-cracking high school presentations. I seek out and accept any speaking engagement, no matter the paid-time-off I must use or personal money I must spend. I have improved my body language, gestures, vocal variety, and cadence. My Toastmasters group considers me one of our best speakers.

I like asking people how they would spend their time each day if nothing else like money was considered. My answer could easily change, but I would write and share my story with others, a shocking turnaround from years ago when “cancer” was also banned from my Superman dictionary.

I prepare for every speech like it is my second (non-paying) job. But for my next speech I am preparing like my future depends on it. In four days I’ll speak for thirty minutes at the Critical Mass Young Adult Cancer Alliance 2012 Annual Conference, in Atlanta.

Kodak zx5 pocket camcorder for YouTube videosMy speaking agent asked for footage, so I bought an HD pocket camcorder with image stabilization to record myself. Hours of preparation still may not prevent a voice crack, so my friends may have crisp footage to laugh at. Unlike twelve years ago, I won’t put my notecards down and rush to my seat: “notecards” is not in my speaker dictionary.