For the last few weeks... but especially this week I have been wrapped up in putting together my first professional presentation. Meaning my first presentation at a professional conference. I was not nervous about the public speaking part. I was more concerned about technology, and about having the handouts and slides Just So.
My co-presenter was very worried about other things. And this caused STRESS. It also made our presentation totally kick butt.
Here is an example of the level of detail I was getting hung up on: I requested to take control of the slide design because I am a control freak and have recently become enamored of Universal Design. So.
In the week before the presentation I was trying to get the PERFECT shade of green for a particular section. I went hunting for color charts on the web and wrote down the codes for the greens that I liked and tried each one systematically. I stayed up remarkably late obsessing about this. Knowing that it would not matter to anyone but me. And there was not right answer, which made it even harder to choose the right one.
My other quirky thing was my posessiveness of the handouts. And my determination that the handout packet would NOT be a copy of our slides, but would be a magical document that could serve as a resource for years to come. And also not be confusing to people while we presented.
Here is what my partner was doing: going over and over the slides and creating a minute-by-minute, slide-by-slide presentation outline. Changing little details. Tweaking the times by a little here, a little there.
So when she thought I had randomly deleted half of our slides the day before the presentation and she redid all of her notes based on this assumption... it caused some stress.
THEN, the night before the conference, my car broke down. On Friday afternoon on my way to pick up the boys from the bus stop. Spouse bussed to their stop and then they all road home with a kind parent in a blue car with butt warmers. My children were ecstatic.
Someone came to try to jump start the car. No go. So we had the car towed to a repair place. Spouse went with the tow truck. Children were watching television and eating pizza. I was sitting in a dark room, feeling despair settle in my gut and drowning in a sea of mis-printed handouts that I was cannibalising to make a tricked-out presentation binder.
And I had to work the next day and I didn't know how I was going to get all my things with me and somehow it did not occur to me that I have friends with cars nearby who would have been perfectly happy to either give me a lift or lend me their car. Funny how in crisis mode the brain doesn't work. It was like the engine that would not start. Turning over and over and over but never catching.
So I texted my boss and told her that I couldn't make it to work. I had all kinds of improbably alternate plans involving circus clowns. a singing telegram and a guest-appearance by Shirley Temple Black. She did not respond, which I took to mean she agreed with the plan.
However, I woke the next morning at 8:00 am to find that she had texted me at 1:00 in the morning: I will pick you up at 8:30 at your house. Please send me your address.
So, I jumped up, ran around, showered, found clothes, threw everything that I needed (and then some) for the presentation in a box, wolfed down some cold pizza and was ready with thirty seconds to spare when my boss arrived.
Then there was a snow storm, and my partner was late to pick me up and we were later than we wanted to be to the conference which meant that instead of having an hour to leisurely set up and talk through things... we had ten minutes in which to quickly check the technology, run down to the main doors to grab our nametags and GO.
However, we knocked the presentation out of the park. Really. I'm prettty sure that is a baseball reference. Once I went to a soccer game and the fans were people who had definitely not watched soccer before. When the ball went into the stands, a person in the crowd caught the ball and believed he could take it home as a souvenir. Ha.
Quaker, teacher, parent,