I Was Not Alone on Stage (the conclusion)
I guess I had a long nap since the last post but here is my conclusion to my experience on stage at the national speaker’s convention!
After the fifth failed attempt at practising my speech the night before, I gave up and went downstairs to the opening night reception of the convention. A couple of hours later, a dear friend asked me if I was ready. I blurted, “I guess not. I failed the dress rehearsal and now can’t remember the speech at all.” She said something interesting. “This is more normal, John. You were too calm when I asked you this morning!” She then led me by the hand back onto the stage and stood on the floor close to the stage and said, “Okay, now just tell me the speech!”
There ended up being a number of distractions so I did not get all the way through but it felt better every time I envisioned the speech.
I awoke early the next morning and went to the gym to workout. My speech was scheduled for 9:17 AM. Apparently, I was practicing the speech out loud. I know that because later that day a speaker from Alberta asked me if I was the guy walking on the treadmill in the morning speaking to myself. He had watched me speak on stage and remembered this weird guy talking to himself in the morning on the treadmill. I don’t even remember doing that.
I had done everything possible to prepare and was as ready as I was going to be!
I went back stage at the appointed time and was very nervous. I received a couple of hugs back stage from people who cared about me, I took a couple of deep breaths, and I paced and visualized giving a great performance. If I was coaching someone, I would tell them to make sure they new the opening because instincts would kick in after that.
When my name was announced and the music started to play, I walked out on stage and nailed my opening. That was all it took for me to have fun and deliver my speech just the way I had imagined it could be. As I concluded, I wanted to raise my fist in the air in triumph but instead I settled for a big smile and gestured to the audience.
18 months ago immediately after my heart attack, I was unsure whether I would ever stand on a stage again. Now I had conquered the main stage at the national speaker’s convention. What a feeling! To my surprise, I received a standing ovation. That is something special I will not soon forget.
As I look back on that moment, it is with gratitude to so many people. I was not on that stage alone. The president who believed in me was there; my colleagues who encouraged me before and after the speech were there; my toastmaster’s friends back in Winnipeg who listened to parts of the speech were carried in my heart, along with my wife, Bev, and border collie, Lucy, who listened to this speech in our living room.
As with any success we experience, it is seldom, if ever, achieved on our own. Although I was physically alone on that stage, there were a lot of people in my corner who helped propel me there. I will be eternally grateful!
John Hindle,The Contact HitterShare