If I’d written this three months ago I would have either used a slightly nebulous highlight – “managing my health, work and lifestyle so that they work in harmony” (most of the time) or I might have said “writing a book”.
However, in September, I had a new experience because of Crohn’s/IBD. (What follows is a slightly edited post from just after that event)
“Whatever else you can say about Crohn’s Disease it certainly does give you the chance of new experiences, mostly unpleasant, to be honest. I won’t list the nasty ones here as they are covered in the video at the end of this post.
A fellow IBD patient, or should that be sufferer, had been asked to to give a talk about “Living with IBD” to some nurses. Unfortunately she was double booked and asked if I would step in. With typical male arrogance and over confidenece I immediately agreed. The date was set for 5 weeks time.
It was actually something I’d wanted to do for a while. I suppose it reawoke the “performing” instinct that first showed itself when I was in a band. That was around the time I was diagnosed with Crohn’s.
I wouldn’t need any preparation. I’d lived with IBD long enough to write a book (literally). I would just turn up and talk, or so I thought. The last thing I wanted was to read from a script.
At this point I found out that there would be around 200 nurses, in a proper lecture theatre and I would be talking at the end of the afternoon. It dawned on me that to do the subject justice, and not short change the nurses, I would at least need some notes and something to keep everyone awake. Where’s that mind map software?
I was rather staggered by the sheer number of topics I came up with. After much arranging and re-arranging I wrote them down as a series of headings and bullet points. That would do. I tried a run through. TERRIBLE. I stumbled over the words to flesh out each point. I would have to give in and write out some notes.
Another run through and nearly as bad – stilted, hesitant, repetitive….. I would have to give in and write the talk out word-for-word, the very thing I didn’t want to do.
Having just written a book (100,000 words) using iBooksAuthor software I decided it was the right tool for this new task. There is one particular feature that is indispensible – the option which allows you to take your text, convert it to speech and then save as an mp3 file for listening to on an iPod. Why this extra step?
I find that no matter how often I read text through, either on screen or in printed form, it is very difficult to pick up words that have been repeated too often or where simply by changing the structure of a sentence it makes a far better read. Listening to the text several times also gives you a chance to start taking it on board and makes one’s delivery more polished.
Here’s an example as an mp3. Not marvellous but good enough to run through the words without being distracted by the text on the screen. It shows how easy it is too identify a missing word.
After several further iterations, including two read throughs to my wife, I was finally happy with the contents.
Now it was time to remember all those tips I picked up on the various corporate presentation courses I had been sent on – move around the stage, make eye contact with all parts of your audience, generate some audience participation by asking THEM questions, communicate with passion and finally include a surprise.
THE BIG DAY
When I got to the lecture theatre, with a real live audience, it suddenly became a lot easier. I did use my text but just as a “confidence safety net” and to make sure I didn’t forget anything (which I still did). I had taken a small camera with me but unfortunately didn’t get there in time to set it up properly so the sound wasn’t brilliant.
The resulting video was rather long all in one go so I’ve split it into three parts. Of the three I think that the second one covering surgery and stomas is the most representative. I’ll let you judge the result.”
Kings College Hospital, Lecture Theatre
I wasn’t expecting that round of applause for my stoma stunt!
This has to be my Health Activist highlight as it was the first time I had spoken in public and gave me a chance to give an insight into IBD to the nurses who will end up looking after patients, some of which will have IBD. It’s whetted my appetite to take it further. I rather fancy talking to some consultants and doctors next.