Six years ago I was literally approached on the street by someone I had met before, but barely knew, and he asked me if I wanted to come and give a three hour lecture about event planning to a class of students at a local college. I started to laugh out loud, but he didn’t find his proposition funny. He was dead serious. He had heard of what a passionate and successful event planner I was and figured that’s all I would need to get me through the three hour talk. He told me if I ever started to lose them (my audience), to just tell some fun stories.
That lecture went SO WELL I was called into the Director of Education’s office and offered a contract to teach 12 courses at the college - with 8 of them requiring a unique, weekly, 3-hour lecture that I would need need to write, add resources and references to and then memorize and deliver.
At the end of that first year I was once again called into the Director of Education's office and told I had just accomplished something no other instructors at the college had even done. After all the student evaluations had been tallied and reviewed, not only had I scored highest of all instructors in my very first year… but my score was a perfect 100%
With that, my contract was extended indefinitely and I have taught and lectured year round for the past six years until just last month when the program was cancelled and removed from the college’s catalogue. In total I delivered over 500, 3-hour lectures and was crushed when I was told that it was all coming to an end; as I had hoped to continue for many years to come.
Through that, I explored other opportunities for public speaking and was invited to talk at other events and conferences on the side. People started encouraging me to expand my content and repertoire to include experiences from my tumultuous life. People wanted to hear me speak… they wanted to hear stories of topics close to my heart, and it seemed like it was a natural fit to go along with my writing.
I had found a new passion. I looked forward to every lecture and speech I gave. I left the house with a spring in my step and was eager to get to class. Often after back-to-back lectures I struggled to stay awake on the drive home because I was so exhausted as I had given everything I had in those lectures.
I have been told I’m a captivating storyteller and that I know how to hold an audience. All the students I taught found my enthusiasm and passion for the subject matter I spoke about inspiring and contagious; and that’s saying a lot coming from millennial aged college students. I always knew I had a good lecture, if I could maintain eye contact with my students for three hours without losing them to their phones.
This is something I want to continue doing. I crave more of it. I would love to make public speaking a full time career as it would fit nicely with my current situation of being a stay-at-home Dad.
I want to change my focus from that of event planning to more special needs parenting and sharing the stories of my upbringing and volatile life thus far and how that has shaped, molded and prepared me for life with special needs kids. I think this is perhaps how I can become an advocate for Rett Syndrome and Autism. I can use my writing... and I can use my voice.
Now, it's just a matter of finding an audience that not only WANTS to hear what I have to say, but also NEEDS to hear my stories as what I have to say might encourage, motivate and inspire them in their own journey.
Here's hoping that in 2020 I can find just that.