Less than perfect talk

I had an interesting day on Wednesday. I was very excited to have been invited to give a talk to some folks at Victim Support Services. They asked for one of my longer talks, an hour and a half covering dissociation, multiplicity, and strategies for managing each.

I got off to a fantastic start by discovering I’d left my power point at home.

Oh dear lord.

I’m pretty careful about talks because they are under time pressure and being as dissociative as I am there’s a lot to manage. I have to get there on time, navigate successfully, find a close park, bring all my props and notes with me, and not leave them at any of my risk spots along the way – by my front door (done that), in the car, on the bus, or at the facility once I get there. Sigh. Because I do a lot of talks these days I’ve been developing a more comprehensive filing system. I have a talks master folder, with individual folders for every type of talk I’ve developed, and sub folders within them for talks that have been modified for a specific audience. All the development materials and brainstorms for each talk are in a folder within each, which means it’s much easier to find just the final products I need – notes, checklist, poems, and powerpoint, but I can still go back through earlier development materials if I need to.

I am also trying to keep hard copies of each talk with all the printed materials in files so that I’m not unnecessarily printing the same notes each time. This doesn’t always work as my preference is to tailor talks even if only a little bit, to each unique audience. Sometimes the time changes so I need to cut material or can further develop a concept. Sometimes a different audience is far more or less familiar with an aspect of the talk so I need to modify that. I searched through all my files on Tuesday but couldn’t find this talk, so I modified the digital versions and then printed it all up again. Then of course I found the original file. 🙂

I also always check that the powerpoint is the latest version, the thumb drive is not corrupted (had that happen once, went to print an assignment due that day!) and it is also backed up on my secondary thumb drive just in case. Lately after having some software compatibility issues at talks I also create a PDF version of the power point which I can scroll through in emergencies.

This particular talk has many different elements to it, including an example grounding kit of different items, so I have a checklist to ensure I’ve packed every item I will need. I went through it all on Tuesday but forgot to put my thumb drives back in my purse after checking them on my computer.

Embarrassing and unprofessional! I felt terrible. There were a few options – give the talk without the powerpoint, draw the relevant images on the whiteboard during the talk instead, connect to the net and use the images from this blog post, skedaddle home and grab the powerpoint. All the former were a lot less than ideal for one reason or another so I dashed home. Wow am I glad that I have a good grasp of my own grounding techniques because I just wanted to hide in a hole, I was so flustered. I ate extra strong mints, ran the air conditioner on high even though it was a really cold day, and rang a friend to say ‘I can’t believe what I just did! I’m so angry with myself!’ My unhappiest voice kicked in and ran through my brain on a loop, but I was able to ride it all and settle enough to drive safely and give the talk without having a panic attack or stuffing up the delivery. I made a few jokes about it and used how I was feeling as a case in point for how people struggling with stress and dissociation can learn management strategies. The audience were a really lovely bunch which helped enormously. Regrouping when things don’t go to plan is a great skill to have and as a Peer Worker I reckon you’ll use it often. 🙂

The aftermath of giving talks with personal information in them is always pretty severe, the freak factor is still very strong, and that night I was pretty ill. However, I’m very proud of myself, and I’m going to keep on working on creating good systems that help make talks easier for me to manage. I’m still looking for funding to get to the 25th International Voice Hearers Conference in Wales later this year as they’ve accepted my abstract, which will be a tremendous challenge for me but one I would really love to undertake. All these amazing people who are doing what I am doing, exposing their secrets and giving messages of hope and connection, they give me such strength and resolution. I would dearly love to go and be part of this event with them. Either way though, their stories give me hope and courage to keep telling my own. 

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