I wrote this originally on May 23rd and scheduled it for after the Memorial Day Weekend. I went to sleep happy that I wrote again. I awoke to an e-mail from Chris Lema with his latest post the same thing.
Nevertheless, I’m moving forward.
If you’ve attended either of my presentations at WordCamp Austin in 2012 and 2013, you saw pictures of my kids in the first few minutes of my talk. Last year, I had a point. I introduced my kids, then my wife which was a perfect segue for why that was important in the real world. In both cases, the pictures of my kids wasn’t important to the talk itself. So, why did I do it?
Am I a proud dad? Yes, but that’s not why.
During WordCamp 2013, a member of the audience came to me and said how she thought it was smart of me to include pictures of the kids since it make it easier for the audience to connect to me faster, giving the audience more of the ability to focus on the talk coming from someone they already “like”.
I’m sure that’s true for some of the folks, at least, but that’s not why.
What about sending a message to society about having a relatively high number of kids so close together (3 within 37 months and 12 days) and how that’s okay? If you want to take that from it, sure, but no, that’s not why I do it.
I do it for me. Not because of some egotistical need to show off my kids, to brag about how cute they look or show off that Olivia was wearing a handmade Angry Birds costume. No. I do it so I can get into my groove.
See, I’m not a prolific public speaker (unlike Chris, who speaks often!). I feel like I have some talent and some skill, but I am not well-practiced. Besides being part of a panel for a meetup last month, I haven’t spoken before an audience between the 2012 and 2013 WordCamps. I’m nervous going on stage. I was in speech therapy for six years; will I suddenly revert back to my Kindergarten-level pronunciation of my “L”, “R”, and “Th” sounds? How will my talk go? Will it be at the right level for the audience? I should have gone over it more. Will the jokes land? Will my examples make sense? Can I field the questions asked on the fly without sounding like or actually being an idiot? Can I just give the presentation without sounding like an idiot? And so on, and so on.
I’ve found, though, once I start speaking, I get into a groove and everything works out just fine. The question is how do I get into that groove? Do I jump right into my talk, knowing the first two, three, or five minutes will be shaky as I get out being too inside my head? What if I trip over myself giving a talk to the public for the first time during this shaky period and mess things up more?
Instead, I give you just a tad more than you need to know about my kids. You hear their names. I get to roll through a picture of each. I won’t mess up introducing them and I’m reminded that, at the end of the day, even if I do fall flat on my face, they’ll still be excited to see me when I get home. I get a chance to make sure my presentation voice is functional, I confirm that the presentation remote is working live in the moment, and I get a moment to stop worrying about the presentation and start actually giving it.
If you like me more since I’m a proud daddy, great. If you think I wasted two minutes, then well, okay, you think that. It works for me. It’s what gets me in the right headspace, akin, I suppose, to President Bartlett’s tie in The West Wing.
In the future, based on Chris Lema’s advice, which is common sense once someone says it to you, I’ll mix this up a bit…