So those who know me in real life know that as much as I like to talk and to write that public speaking absolutely paralyses me! So much so that I won’t even speak in front of a room filled with more than 20 of my own family members unless I have to; and even then it is filled with stuttering and stumbling over sentences that I speak on a regular basis. Today however, all of that changed. I made a vow to myself that as of my 30th year that I would let go of that fear and essentially “speak up”.
My opportunity came as a few of the conferences that I plan to attend this year. AAHGS (African American Historical Genealogy Society 2016 in Atlanta) and the IBGS (International Black Genealogy Summit in DC) put out their calls for papers. For those who don’t know a call for papers is sending out a proposal to be a speaker during the conference. I really really wanted to do it but realized that I was in no way shape or form ready for such a huge undertaking… I was however, ready to “speak up” in front of my genealogy detectives group that I love so much. Even though I don’t get to attend as regularly as I want to I made sure that I made it today (well yesterday now). Even if it meant not getting any sleep after I got off work at 7am in the morning. (Yes I realize that it is almost 3am as I type this but ~ I’m at work again) The reason that today was so important you ask… it was because I, yes ME Tierra Kellow was going to be SPEAKING… delivering a presentation that I created about genealogy and the evernote program. I was so excited because I love evernote and I use it all the time. Especially since I am trying to not have to carry around my “Big Book of Everybody” unless it is absolutely necessary. (S/N I need to remind myself to get a rolling suitcase, I’m sure my research will eventually cause severe back pain if I’m not careful – that book is really heavy).
I didn’t get nervous until it was actually time to speak and people were filing into the meeting room. There were only 12 people but hey to me that was a big deal… I had my powerpoint together, I knew what I was going to talk about, and I did it with a smile on my face.
I was originally worried that I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of a room and deliver a presentation that lasted for more than 20 minutes. I packed the slide show with roughly 80 slides to make sure that I didn’t run under time… Little did I know that I would end up going “off script” into an almost impromptu presentation, giving a live evernote tutorial using my own personal evernote. That, along with questions (that I was able to answer) and comments/conversation from the crowd, I managed to stay at the podium for almost TWO HOURS… I couldn’t believe it myself. I was so proud of me 🙂
After the presentation I was shocked to learn that everyone enjoyed it. People even wanted a copy of the power point. Here I was ready to hang my hat on this failed attempt and call it a day. Boy was I wrong… One of the group members is making plans to recommend me to speak on this topic at another engagement. Another group member asked me if I was available to speak at a separate group. I think I might be up for it so long as the crowd is small (for now).
Maybe one day I’ll be able to command a large crowd without wanting to curl up in the corner and cry. At least I’m getting there, one step at a time… Until then I’ll just continue to do my best to “SPEAK UP”