As we get close to Ignite Denver #19, we put out the call to our presenters to solicit pre-event blog posts to promote their Spark. With that in mind, we bring you: SparkPlugs!
Wish Me Luck
My first time ever speaking to a large, public audience was a total disaster. I forgot everything.
I was at the Yale University campus in New Haven, CT, for a summer program that my mom put me in, and it was a cool idea — a weird hybrid between college-level classes and high-school level class-trips and the occasional party.
And I had a ridiculous crush on this German girl in my acting class. I was impressed by the gumption I showed speaking with her initially — she had a rare confidence that you typically don’t see in teenagers. She was worldly, intelligent and absolutely beautiful. I felt like a pauper talking to her, just begging for some attention.
My master plan: Take a leading part in one of the scenes in the acting class I was in, absolutely kill it and seduce her with my acting chops.
Then, a week or so later, the reality: I’m standing in front of a hundred or so individuals in the audience, stammering, umming, and staring off into space, because I’d forgotten all of my lines. I wasn’t prepared. Not even close.
I just filled that dark, mysterious void with uhhhhhhhhhhh, until my director tried to help me fill it in, and ended up skipping about a third of the play.
Total. Fucking. Fail.
I think you can imagine how it turned out: The German girl ended up taking a liking to some tone-deaf, guitar-strumming hippie.
These People Are Way Cooler Than Me
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago – driven by a fit of rare confidence in myself, I decided to tackle something that I’ve been intrigued by for years, but never truly pursued: public speaking. I was staring at an application for Ignite Denver 19, a speaking event that would cease taking submissions in less than 24 hours. I threw together an idea, submitted it, and bam! One week later I got an email telling me that I’d been accepted to be one of twelve speakers performing a quick, five minute talk.
When I first heard about it, I’d wrongly assumed it would be TEDx on a much smaller stage, and wondered why they had accepted me — someone with little to no speaking credentials, discussing a topic that I had minimal expertise and wherewithal to speak about, presenting in a format that I was totally unfamiliar with.
Then, I got to meet everyone, hear their gut-wrenching, scintillating and absolutely absurd (and often hilarious) stories, and I found out something very, very quickly:
Holy shit, these people are way cooler than me.
Like the incredible story of a guy who overcame an injury that left him paralyzed from the waist-down. Just listening to the run-through of that crushed me. Or the woman who, for years, failed to find love, constantly met jerks and then through self-discovery found a way to make herself feel happy. It was genuinely one of the funniest things I’ve witnessed in a while. I hope they hand out diapers in the auditorium.
And then there’s the brilliant soul who left her hometown to go abroad and travel the world for two-and-a-half years. A few months ago, I traveled by myself for just a few days before I met up with a friend, and it almost derailed my entire life. I envy her. That takes courage.
To have been selected, to be granted the opportunity to speak in front of an audience of a few-hundred folks and to be alive and well to witness such an incredible event.
It will be awe-inspiring and thought-provoking. People will cry. People will piss themselves laughing. And they’ll fall in love. And they’ll hold their breath. And they’ll get really, really mad.
They’ll feel all these feels.
And I’m just happy to be part of it. And it occurst to me: I guess I must be kind of cool, too.
Wish me luck.