Prior to yesterday all my presentations had been with a PowerPoint presentation. I have been nervous to change from this because the PowerPoint is as important to me as it is to the audience because it keeps me on track. Yesterday, however, at the Missouri Association for Family and Community Education I would be flying solo.
There was a sizable crowd on hand (86) and I was nervous. Would I remember the points I needed to make? Would I remember anything? I had 45 minutes and I had to make sure I filled the time.
From the start as I stated, "Hello, I am Aaron Likens, Community Education Specialist for TouchPoint Autism Services." it seemed more natural than previous presentations with a PowerPoint. With the PowerPoint the presentation is very much on rails and I can't deviate from what is down the line.
Going into the presentation yesterday the ONLY thing I knew what I was going to say was my starting line. After that I didn't know. Would you say I was ill-prepared? Perhaps, but if I had thought about it I would have stressed to the point of being unable to do it anyway (much like the panel with Temple Grandin next week).
Being able to deviate was amazing. I felt as if my lines were more natural and not as prepared as they sometimes may seem. Being able to feed off of the laughter and compassion of the audience also made it better because I could change what I said and the order.
At certain times I felt like a stand up comedian with my witty lines and there was one instance that I had to wait for the laughter to subside before continuing with the lines that get people to care. Unlike the PowerPoint I had much more freedom to tug at heart strings and to tickle the funny bone and it was an amazing experience.
Afterwards I had many thanks and praises. I typically do, but these were deeper and as sincere as sincere can get. "I never knew what it was like" and, "You know, I think my (insert extended family member here) may be on the spectrum" were lines I heard. On top of that I heard the most important line of all with one woman saying, "What can I do to help?"
Moving forward I may try to do more presentations without the PowerPoint. If you'd have told me that I would be saying that a week ago I would have flat out laughed at you, but here I am. I don't know about you, but I would call that growth.
As for me now, I am headed to Eldora Speedway to flag the USAC .25 series. Starting on Saturday you will be able to watch all the racing action live on the internet at ustream.tv and search for USAC.