First Public Speaking Engagement

For most of the time since Kate’s diagnosis, I have planned to speak to groups about our experience. Until recently, I hadn’t done anything to act on this desire. Almost a year ago, I mentioned it to the program chair for our Rotary club.  I spoke the club this past Monday which is the first time that I have spoken publicly.

Although this was the first time I have spoken publicly, I felt comfortable doing so. I felt that I know the subject well, and I had also prepared well. It turned out far better than I expected. The woman introducing me knew me well and gave a very laudatory intro and did so in a very personal, moving way. When I got to the podium, I said, “Who thought the tears would come at this part in the program?”

My presentation also went well. I could tell the audience was engaged. When I was finished, our president told me that he watched them very carefully as he does every week. He also sensed they were engaged. One person, a retired bishop of he Lutheran church of Tennessee, shook my hand and wanted to tell me something. He was so emotionally touched he couldn’t get out the words. I received quite a few hugs from those who spoke to me including a number I hadn’t thought of as huggers. Since the meeting I have seen a number of other people who had heard me speak and made complimentary remarks.

All this is to say that I feel good about my initial effort. Although I was reasonably confident this would be the case, I still wondered if the audience would be interested. I have now answered that question. Now I will start thinking about when and where to speak again. I had already established contact with two people at the local Alzheimer’s Association. They know of my interest in speaking and/or meeting with support groups. I have also spoken with and visited the director of a local center for caregivers. In addition, my relationship to our major hospital system may present opportunities as well. There may also be possibilities through churches and through Kate’s doctor’s primary care practice. They have a couple of social workers who work with caregiver support groups in town.