“Enlighten us, but make it quick!” That’s the message from Ignite Cardiff (www.ignite.wales) for potential speakers at their bi-monthly event. It’s an evening of motivational, inspirational, educational talks which features around nine speakers from the local area. The brief is that you have 5 minutes in which to share your personal or professional passion with an audience of around 400 eager listeners. Sounds simple? Read on…
It will not come as a surprise to those of you who know me to hear that I love speaking. But I don’t just mean chatting or pontificating among friends, I mean I also have a burning desire to speak in front of audiences (and to be paid for it would be the icing on the cake!). It therefore seemed a no-brainer to add ‘Speak at an event’ to my list of 50 challenges, and where better to try out than Ignite?
It was back in February that I hit the ‘submit’ button to apply to become a speaker; the March event was full but I was told I’d be kept in mind for the May event. Perfect timing, falling just 2 days after my 50th birthday. I was keen to go along on March 23rd to experience the event as an audience member and I was blown away by the passion and courage of the speakers. I laughed (@DinahVaginaArt) and cried (@ Chris, Annie and Adnan). And I knew I definitely wanted to get up there. So, when I got the email to say I was IN for the May 25th event, to say I was excited would be an understatement.
The email from Ed Barnett (Head of Operations at Ignite) told me exactly what I needed to do to prepare the PowerPoint to accompany my talk on the subject of my 50ShadesofBrave. I would have 20 slides, which would automatically transition after 15 seconds, which if you’re mathematically inclined you will realise takes you nicely to the 5-minute mark. I had a deadline by which to upload the slides to Dropbox, and also to provide a head shot, a short biography, any social media links and a list of up to 5 plus-ones to come and support me. The latter were easy. The presentation took rather more time, and definitely more time than it needed to…(this is the point where I gloss over the fact that I didn’t read the instructions carefully enough, and included numerous fancy effects and animations on my slides, only to find that I had to spend equally as long taking them back out… doh!)
Finally, I had a finished set of slides and a basic idea of what I was going to say. A few days to polish up and practice, you say? Well you would think so. But by the evening of Tuesday 24th May, I had come to the conclusion that this was going to be a talk ‘au naturel’… in other words, with a rough outline in my head and no notes in my hand, I was going to wing it!!
Wednesday 25th arrived. My work day couldn’t end quickly enough. I had to be at The Glee Club in Cardiff Bay for 6.30 for a speakers’ briefing. My slot was at around 8.40 pm., kicking off the final group of three speakers. Before that, I was free to sit and listen to the other speakers, whose talks ranged from ’10 ways to take 5′, encouraging us to spend 5 minutes a day learning something new, to ‘Pictures from Palestine’, a thought-provoking talk on the Israeli-Palestinian tensions, to a talk delivered entirely in rhyme… I managed to limit myself to one glass of ‘Dutch Courage’ and some fizzy water, and to remain reasonably calm by sitting with my daughter and my friends.
End of segment two.A quick visit to the ladies. And then I was up.
After a brief and entertaining introduction from MC Steve Dimmick, I found my (carefully marked) spot on the stage, took the mic and with heart thumping in my chest, faced the audience. I understand from friends that my nerves were audible as I first started to talk, but they soon settled. I gave a short overview of what my talk was about and why 50ShadesofBrave had even come into being, and then cued the technical team to start the slide show.
The next 5 minutes was over in a flash. I remember the lights were bright; I remember hearing laughter, plus the occasional ‘whoop’ from friends; I remember getting into the flow and actually enjoying myself! And then I was standing in front of my final slide, smiling and being applauded. What a feeling!
I was glad to be able to relax and listen to the other two inspiring ladies in the final segment – Natasha Borton, who performed an amazing poem about being raped at age 14 and followed with her thoughts on the importance of consent; and Lucy Cohen, who entertainingly wrapped up the evening with a journey of humorous self assessment in explanation of ‘Why I will never be a submariner’.
Stage cleared and house lights up, I rejoined my band of loyal supporters to enjoy a glass of wine and was overwhelmed to be approached by a number of members of the audience, some telling me how much they had enjoyed the talk and others with offers of help to fulfill other challenges! Bring it on!!! Even more unexpected was the arrival of two ladies who asked me whether ‘Drink a Jägerbomb with two strangers’ was on my list of challenges!!! It wasn’t, but since they arrived with Jägerbombs in hand, it would obviously have been rude not to…
I certainly enjoyed this challenge and would love love love to do it again… Ed?
Update: finally, here’s the link to the video.
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