Fright Night (not the hurricane. The public speaking.)

I gotta tell you, I was admittedly nervous heading out to DC this weekend for BlogPaws. All last week the talk of the country was this mega storm that was barreling towards the East Coast, not for Florida but for the eastern seaboard exactly where we were supposed to be going.

Some family members delicately suggested that I might reconsider going. And I said, no way, because it’s BlogPaws and it’s my favorite conference of the entire year and I can’t not go. So I went, as did the majority of registered attendees.

In addition to the fact that I just really, really wanted to go, I also had two presentations to give: Be the Change, which I love, and a talk to the vet track. The Vet Track talk on Friday was titled “Lessons from a Veterinary Blogger: How blogging saved my sanity.”

I proposed that as a working title way back before I realized there was an implication that perhaps that meant I was at one point insane, but by then the program had already gone to the printers so I was stuck with it. What a beginning.

I went back and forth and back and forth about what to say. Do I talk about blogging platforms? About content? Give them some lists of dos and don’ts that have worked for me? Since I know so few veterinary bloggers I really have no idea what they do and don’t need to know. The ones I know seem to get it and everyone else is totally clueless.

So I just kind of ran with it and figured it would be ok, maybe, but truth be told I was nervous. Speaking isn’t like writing. I can’t backspace try again edit if something I don’t like comes out of my mouth. This is a one shot deal and I wanted to get it right.

So I obsessed. I stayed up practicing to Brody many evenings. I changed pictures 5 times. Then it was Friday and I had to go give the talk.

It didn’t help that I was preceded by Brenda Tassava, who is an excellent, knowledgable social media maven. Good for everyone else, set the bar really high for me. I stacked the deck, planting a handful of people (you know who you are, and thank you) in the audience who I knew would be encouraging even if it totally sucked.

I started. I was a bundle of nerves. I kept eyeing the alarm system wondering if we might be evacuated, which would take the pressure off me. Then I started looking at my friends, who smiled back though I didn’t know at that point if it was out of pity or encouragement.

The talk ended up in all sorts of weird places, which you might have come to expect from me. There were sharks and medicine men, Tyrannosaurs and Monty Python, talk of mild nudity, I just kind of rolled with it.

It was basically a speaking version of this blog and despite my own feelings about it, I don’t think it’s the standard tone for a pro talk, but what do I know. So I figured hey, at least if I end up with a room of people making this face, they’ll all forget about it later when the hotel floods.

Bill Schroeder from In Touch Practice Communications, the whizย who was giving 7 hours worth of lecture for the track, was in the back and I wasn’t sure but I thought I saw him shaking his head in his hands. So after I was done, I ran out and hid in the lobby to leave him to try to steer the group back on course.

If nothing else, the sky was still encouraging.

Later that night, as we waited for the gale forces to hit, I struck up a conversation with someone and we were chatting, and I said, “I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Jessica.”

And it was Bill, the guy who was speaking all day. He looked much less intimidating by then, though whether it was the wine I had or the fact that everyone was in civvies, I don’t know. So I copped to my overwhelming nerves and apologized for setting such a poor example for my profession.

And you know what? He was so nice and so encouraging and he totally liked all the dog pictures. And then I talked to other people who were there, besides my friends who were ethically obligated to stay positive, and they were all so nice and so encouraging as well. And then I realized, I just gave a talk to a roomful of friends. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that is exactly what happened.

So when I say there is no group of people I’d have rather hung out with during the hurricane, no greater honor than to raise mayhem with them in the ensuing wee hours, I mean it. This is such a cool community of people.

And then there was a lot of this too:

It would have taken a lot more than a measly little 5.8 quake and a category 1 hurricane to make me miss that.

Filed: Daily Life Tagged:
  • Was so nice to meet you this weekend, Dr. V! Hope you made it home safely. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sounds like an amazing time. Pet bloggers are such a nice, welcoming group of people–sounds like a fun place to ride out the hurricane!

  • Leigh

    I’m sure you inspired people with your *real*ness and your humor. At the very least, you know yours wasn’t stuffy or boring.

    Also, my boss/vet laughs like a loon when I show her “Tales from the Vet Clinic” videos.

  • Tonya

    You cut your hair! Looks cute! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Wish I could have been there for your talk, which I’m sure did NOT suck! I imagine that the others enjoyed having you there as much as you enjoyed being there with them.

    And happy belated birthday! Totally let that slip by on Friday.

  • Lisa W

    I’m being brave and starting a small blog this week for my London travels. If I don’t completely muck it up, then the Bailey’s Grace blog is on the way!

    • Wonderful! I can’t wait to see it Lisa!

  • Hi Dr V.

    It was so nice to visit with you at BlogPaws. I thought your Vet Track session was GREAT!! I really enjoyed it.

    I hope you made it home okay and hope to see you again next year also.

    If I had to choose a group of people to hunker down for a hurricane with, the BlogPaws group is the one I’d choose every time :))

    • Thank you Lorie! It was a great time, wasn’t it?

  • shadowsrider

    You were great! and even though I snuck in (not being a vet person, so I’m guessing not supposed to be in the Vet Track) I learned some important tips for my blogging efforts. (I had not considered legal ramifications)
    So thanks for presenting, I enjoyed both, and great to meet you!
    The batteries died on my camera, so I haven’t been able to see if I got the photo of you and Finn yet.

    • I am really glad you were there. I could look up and see his shaggy head over the top table and it was great.

  • Hey there…your presentation was fantastic. I really enjoyed spending time with you and the others that night/morning…what fun. Thanks for contributing and making the vet track a great experience for all who attended!

  • Wish I’d been there this time, but it wasn’t to be! Maybe next year! Sounds like you all had a great time in spite of hurricanes and earthquakes! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Tamara

    I’m sure that you were better than you think you were in your presentation ๐Ÿ™‚ We always judge ourselves much more harshly than others. I also suspect you showed everyone that the important thing is to be real, which you are…always.

  • It was great to see you again! Although I didn’t sit in on the Vet Track (cuz I’m not a vet), I did sit in on your other session – Be the Change for Pets. You did great! And I also know that you made a BIG difference for a certain little kitten too. xoxo

  • Dr V…I was so happy to finally meet you (and that the thought of more swag got us to meet, hahameow). I smiled when I I told you that there wasn’t any chicken treats in the bag and you said “You actually read my blog…” and am sorry I wasn’t able to attend both Vet and Lay (hahameow, there’s a reference to chickens again) sessions. I am sure your performance was as honest and enlightening as your blog! I will email you the photo I took of you and Deesko (remember, bar–stuffed cat–something in your teeth…)

    • It was *wonderful* to meet you, I only wish I had had a little more time to spend with you! It was a little nutty there! I thought what you did was so very nice. Thank you.

  • You were AWESOME!!! Loved hearing from your perspective about blogging, as did everyone else in the audience:) Thanks for the kind words about my hour of non-stop babbling;) We all get the nerves….and i don’t think it ever goes away….but that’s what keeps us on our toes!

    • Oh, now that makes me feel even better! Because you were cool as a cucumber.

  • JaneK

    you rock and I think it would be totally cool to hear you talk in person….. I bet you edit out some of the most interesting things ๐Ÿ™‚ (although, your blog is very interesting….I didn’t mean it that way…..)

  • I thought you totally nailed the presentation. I mistakenly assumed that you gave it before. It was very informative, entertaining and more importantly, inspiring to everyone in the room.