Chalk and Cheese Presentations

gov conference


20th June. I am in the Pan Pacific Hotel attending a conference on The European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and its implications for Canada, organised by The Government of Canada. It is my other (paying) life. CETA has been under discussion for years, and there is hope it will be introduced soon…but no one knows when. So far a lot of general statements have been made, a lot of people have thanked each other and a lot of government officials have told us who they are and what they do. There are many suited men and little charisma. Lunch was good. There is little excitement…

Last week I gave two presentations on Time To Take Flight. Prior to one I was interviewed for five minutes on CBC Radio early morning news show. This brief appointment stimulated attendance for the library appointment, so much so my evening talk was more popular than the Ted Talk that library had organised earlier in the year. Both audiences were packed with “women of a certain age” who were casually dressed, attentive, enthusiastic and engaged. Some shared their own stories adding to the events entertainment and educational value. The contrast to this government funded meeting could not be more acute.

Whenever I talk at these (un-paid) writers commitments and spend time organising overheads, handouts, advertising posters and deciding what to wear I wonder if it is worth it. But when I leave these presentations, having answered questions, stimulated lively discussions, laughed, learned (and sold books) I am on such a high. That evening it is difficult to sleep as I relive and revisit the conversations with a wonderful group of supportive strangers. What is really rewarding to this writer is the recognition that I have identified a demand, touched a nerve, responded to a need. There are a large group of women who are looking to travel by them self and want advice on how to do it.

During my ninety minute presentation no one looked at their cell phone, read or dozed off (at least I did not notice these activities) and I did not read from prepared notes in a monotone or from the overheads. I did not avoid the difficult questions. I did not quote a huge list of statistics few could identify with and I did not stand stationary behind a podium. The Downtown Pan Pacific Hotel is far more palacios than the regional Kitsilano Library. Attendance for todays government sponsored event  was greater than for my presentation and the smart business dressed attendees certainly looked better, but there was no energy, laughter or excitement. I wonder how much was actually learned. I know I am blowing my own horn here but I am writing this during a presentation…enough said.


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