Today was the pay-off; seven weeks of work all leading up to one half-day presentation. The presentation went fine, no major gaffes, the reception and feedback was positive. We’ll find out in a few days what, if anything, happens next, but for me the most important thing is that the presentation happened. Good, bad, or indifferent, there is something so necessarily fundamental about deadlines. This is something that I really learned when I used to do art exhibitions and programs. They happen. The exhibition opens. The clock winds to the moment the doors have to be unlocked. You can’t still be trying to erase pencil marks when people start walking in or trying to set up chairs when you need to be at the podium. Ready or not, there is no such thing as more time.

Unlike with an exhibition, where we would think about the angles of the room, flow and sight-lines between spaces, a presentation is just a jumble of words, spoken and written, and images. My job is to create a durable structure that will stay with the audience even after I stop speaking. I heard a powerful response once to the argument that you can’t quantify public speaking — you absolutely can, just ask them what they remember, then count. If you can make three to five points stick, congrats on your public speaking. Until the moment the presentation starts, I am thinking about how it could be better, polishing, refining. Actually presenting is a relief, because now I don’t have to continually calculate and recalculate the story, the script, the details. Is there a better way to say this? A more concise chart or any details I’m overlooking? It happened. Time to let it go, until the next one.

Writer, researcher, observer