This is the final post in my 10 week narrative about the creation of my keynote talk for the 2016 HighEdWeb New England regional conference, held at Mount Holyoke College on March 18. You can find an index of all the posts in this series on my #ShareHuman page.
So that went well, all things considered. Not bad for a first time keynote speaker, and I am so glad that it was for a room full of peers and mentors and friends that made me feel very welcome and comfortable right from the moment I arrived at Mount Holyoke College last week.
(Of course, you’ll never go wrong surprising me with a basket full of custom playing cards, fresh coffee, beer, books, and a gift card for my favorite purveyor of local meats—this HEWebNE planning committee did their homework and knew just how to make someone who’s naturally bashful about receiving gifts feel really special.)
And as much as being with all these people at this conference made me want to give my best, especially with so many great presentations before and after my talk, I could also tell that even if I had problems they would be there to support me. I could have failed spectacularly in front of this group, and it would have been hard to deal with, but I know they would have boosted me through it.
But it never came to that. As soon as I was able to start talking (and get a boost of good ol’ Moxie in me to help make up for only four hours of sleep) it all started to flow, and I entered The Presenter Zone…
The Presenter Zone is a state of flow where suddenly all focus changes and somehow I am focused on my slide deck and the technical execution of timing and narrative flow of what I’m saying, but at the same time I’m also floating somewhat outside myself, observing the audience and listening for reactions, measuring engagement and adjusting my pacing and interaction as I go. Quite frankly, it’s exhilarating.
But the downside of being so in the moment throughout a presentation is that as soon as I’ve finished it’s gone. It’s like I was running hurdles and as I made my way around the track leaping over one after another, someone came behind me and removed everything I crossed leaving nothing but empty track. I look back and I can’t remember how I made the leaps, but I know I did.
And while I’m still not really sure of everything I said during my talk, everybody I heard from said it was inspirational, moving, and valuable. As soon as I was able to catch up on all the Twitter posts that had come out during my talk, I knew I must have done something right. My messages got out there, and I think I made people feel something along the way.
Of course, it’s hard for me to be completely objective about the experience. I’m still thinking about things I wish had gone better technically, or places I could have better honed my message and clarified some take-aways. But overall, I’m very happy to have shared what I did.
If you weren’t able to be there, Jackie Vetrano did a nice job capturing a summary of my talk in her live blog for the HighEdWeb Association’s Link Journal. She also put together a quick summary of top takeaways from other sessions at the conference worth reviewing. For those of you who were at my talk, I just want to say thank you again for being such a receptive and positive audience to talk to and with, and I hope you’ll keep in touch about what you’re sharing next. I’m sharing a modified version of slides from my keynote embedded below (some things only really work in the moment and aren’t included in this public version) for your reference. I welcome any further questions or feedback you may have.
You’re all amazing humans, and I hope to spend time with many of you again at the HighEdWeb 2016 Annual Conference in Memphis this October—maybe I’ll even get to see you share a talk of your own?
No matter what you do next, I only ask that you remember to #sharehuman every day. See you soon…