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 whiz 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.