Being a presenter in new places is a stressful thing. What I mean by that is that, being in a new place, one never knows what the turnout will be. Last night was one of those nights as I was in Irvine, California. Would there be 5, 10, maybe 20? At 5:30, with 30 minutes to go before my presentation, not one single person was there. My heart was sinking fast.
Each minute that passed was a stab to my heart because I kept asking, "Where is everyone?" I tend to panic relatively quickly, but I wanted this presentation to go great as this is the last presentation before I head back East.
With 15 minutes to go a few people came in and I thought, "Well, each one I reach is a victory so at least it isn't a waste tonight!" and then a few moments after that a few more came in, and then more, and then more. The person in charge on site was looking at a list of people who RSVP'ed and he said there were still more coming. The number of people was up to 20 and at 6PM I decided to wait two extra minutes and in that time four more people came.
As I was being introduced I was trying to contain my smile because here I was, not 30 minute prior, fearing that no one was going to be there. And, as I looked up, more people came in.
I began my presentation and people were still flowing in. I tried not to let myself get distracted as more and more chairs were being brought in. It was hard not letting my over flowing joy become apparent! Then, 30 minutes in, the classroom was full and people were now sitting in the hall to listen to my presentation. All in all about 55 people showed up (the expected estimate was 15!) and I gave them one of my most energetic and humours presentation to date.
The best thing for a presenter is to have an audience that is into the presentation and are engaged. I had that last night and after feeling a bit down this week it was a great experience. Also, I had about 30 minutes worth of great questions so it was an amazing evening and makes for a great point to turnaround and head back to home. Although I do have a presentation in Tucson on May 9th so the tour isn't over yet.
Today my Kansas shifts gears as I had to San Bernadino to flag the USAC Generation Next tour. After the event the drive towards Tucson will begin. So until Monday have a great weekend and I know I will as I will have flags in hand and also I will be thinking about last night's presentation; a presentation that I was worried if anyone would show up and in the end more people showed up than anyone had hoped or imagined for.