We spent the whole day together in one big room and it was a mix of educational/motivational speakers, two speech contests, awards and recognition, and "taking care of business" kind of voting stuff that professional organizations get into. The award and business parts were kinda boring but it was okay because they were only a little bit of the time then we'd move on to something fun. The humorous speeches for the contest were amazing - six speeches, all great examples, all 5-7 minutes. The winner was an older woman who spoke about driving and car technology and we all just loved her. While the judges were counting up votes, we passed the time asking contestants questions about their hobbies... She told us about watching the Royals game that had her so worried about what that handsome Eric Hofstadter was going to do she had to go make herself a glass of chocolate milk.
Rochelle Rice was our keynote/educational speaker. I learned some wonderful things from her. One thing I'm trying to do in my speeches is slow down my pace a bit - it's tied in with some other professional feedback I've gotten too, I just kind of do everything at an elevated, stressed-out-feeling level. When I present, people feel overwhelmed, I go way too fast.
She had people yell out names of great leaders - we mentioned Ronald Reagan, Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Gates. I realized that they were not speeding through life and did not talk very fast. Speed doesn't give people confidence. Wisdom has to feel slower.
She had us all practice deep breathing - from the belly, slow and methodical. Then had a woman come up and she asked this woman to talk about a stressful situation she'd experienced lately. As she talked, none of us could maintain our calm, we were all elevated right with her! You can't connect and make your audience love you if you're freaking them all out, that's the thing.
We also talked about speaking from the heart - that's how you get people. Be on that line where you're talking about something very emotional and close to you... but don't actually lose it and cry on stage. That's not good. It worries people. Find the place in between, that's the key.
It gave me a lot to think about, it was definitely worth the trip to Topeka and the Saturday at the Kansas Historical Museum. I'm going to be reflecting a lot this week.