Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Shaking Hands at TEDx Fort McMurray

When I auditioned I was so nervous my hands were shaking. I had rehearsed it in my head - and in my car - dozens of times, but even so my hands would not stop shaking. I stood in front of them, the TEDx Fort McMurray selection committee, and then I delivered my speech.

I had made the decision to audition for TEDx knowing that I might not be successful. I knew that dozens planned to audition, and I suspected the competition would be fierce. I knew I was following in the footsteps of some impressive individuals, as while I had been in Vancouver during TEDx Fort McMurray last year I had followed it on Twitter, and I had since viewed all the videos on YouTube. It felt bold to audition, a bit audacious perhaps, but I had a story to tell, and it was burning inside me.

And so I auditioned and told my story to that small room of local people, those who volunteered their time to find presenters for this year's TEDx event. It went well, I thought, but then again it is hard to judge your own performance. I spoke to the panel, and then I went home to wait and see if I would be selected.

This week the selection committee announced the first four of eleven presenters for the event on June 8. I was honoured to find myself in amazing company like Claude Giroux, Alanna Bottrell, and Jenny Berube. I was honoured to be chosen. And I was humbled, because I am, at heart, a writer and not a presenter.

Now I am at work with my coach, a wonderful woman who gives me great ideas and honest feedback. I am honing and refining my speech, and I am thinking more and more about it, and about why I auditioned for TEDx Fort McMurray. I suppose it is because in the end I am a storyteller, and there is nothing more I enjoy than a good story. I enjoy hearing them, and I enjoy writing them - and on occasion I enjoy the opportunity to tell one of my own, too.

On June 8th I will take the stage along with ten other presenters at the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts. I will quell my nerves with the support of good friends, and I will likely consume copious amounts of coffee. I will put on the new shoes I have ordered for the occasion (shoes I custom designed and that are being shipped to me from Australia - another bold move but one that seems fitting given what this opportunity means to me). And then, when my time comes, I will come out on the stage, introduce myself, and tell those in attendance a story.

I cannot share that story here, because I hope you will be there to hear it. I hope you will be there to hear and see eleven presenters, all of us sharing our stories with you. Some of our hands might be shaking, while others will have the confidence of dozens of such presentations behind them. I suspect every single story will be one worth hearing, though, and that is why I would suggest you apply now for your TEDx tickets. I don't think you should do it to come and hear my story, or see my shoes (although they are going to be pretty damn stellar). No, I think you should do it for the entire experience, for the chance to hear the stories of others, and the opportunity to be there for an amazing event I am so proud to have in our community.

I am proud to announce in this blog that on June 8th, 2013, I join an amazing group of presenters - current, past, and future - when I present at TEDx Fort McMurray. It is an incredible opportunity for me, and I am both excited and mildly terrified. Perhaps when you see me on that stage you can look at my shoes instead of my hands, as those hands are likely to be quivering at first. When it is all over, and when I leave the stage, I will leave the shaking hands behind - and take with me the memory of a unique experience. And I hope to leave with you the memory of a story, told with shaking hands - and a full heart.

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