Waiting to walk onto a stage to speak always gives me butterflies. My head always starts to swirl with questions like, “Will they like the message”? “Will the technology work?” (oh goodness...that is a big concern for me), but most importantly, “Will the audience be inspired?”
After I am introduced, the lights start to focus on me as I walk onto the stage. Deep breath. Heart pounding harder, I say my first few words and somehow, I start to calm down and enjoy the experience. Truly enjoy myself.
This is a fairly new love for me - speaking to a crowd. People assume I’ve always been comfortable public speaking, but years ago you would have never seen me in front of the crowd. Seriously, in the past, I would get the jitters just introducing myself in a small group. I hated the, “let’s go around and introduce ourselves and say a little bit about you”, moment when first meeting with a new group. If I had to speak more than just my name, my heart would race and stomach would get major butterflies.
But now, I consider it a privilege. I’ve come a long way, baby.
I love seeing people in the audience engage with what I am saying. I see people nodding when something touches them, smile when they find joy in my words, or even wipe a tear. I enjoy sharing what led me to the present moment and sharing my powerful “Outlive Yourself” message.
Recently, I was asked to speak at the AOPO (Association of Organ Procurement Organizations) annual conference in Austin, Texas. There were almost 1,000 executives, nurses, staff, and representatives from the world of organ donation. Organ donation has touched my life personally with the loss of our daughter Taylor, so I am very passionate about this gift of life and advocating for organ donation has become a focus and purpose in my life.
I was so impressed with everyone I met. They are truly working hard to save lives! I was a bit in awe as I stood to speak to this incredible group of people. The best compliment I have ever received came right after that conference when a man came up to me and said, “I know now the reason why I came to this conference….it was to hear from YOU!” I was blown away.
After I spoke, I had time to walk around the conference to see the vendor booths and other conference guests before the evening reception. Time and time again, people would stop me to let me know how much my talk inspired them not only in their work, but in their personal lives as well. I was so humbled to hear that my words were truly touching people.
The next day, I was invited to speak at a luncheon at the Dropbox offices in Austin, TX. When I grow up, I want to work in an office like this. Talk about different from my days in a gray cubicle! This office was so open and bright, and had fun music playing throughout, as well as a cool outdoor seating area. How things have changed for the better in offices these days!
I had met two Dropbox managers, Amanda Summers and Andre Artis, in Houston this past April and was able to share with them about Taylor’s Gift. They wanted to take the “Outlive Yourself” message into Dropbox and invited me to come to an employee luncheon. I was so excited to share with this energetic group about Taylor’s Gift and our mission, but most importantly, how we all have the power to outlive ourselves by making a lasting difference in the lives of others.
The Dropbox employees are now in talks about what they can do to support Taylor’s Gift. Very excited about what’s to come!
This is really why I shake off the nerves and stand in front of audiences and speak. Not only to share my story, but to maybe spark a little something inside just one person in the audience. My hope is that that when they leave, they make an effort, big or small, to make a difference in another life.
If you would have asked me 6 years ago to stand up in front of thousands of people and speak comfortably, I would have run for the hills. But, I do think this was a gift given to me from the loss of Taylor. I feel her with me. Encouraging me. Proud of me. I do this because I believe Taylor wants me to.
It becomes a ripple effect of good.
If you would like more information on how to have Tara come speak at your event, please go to TaraStorch.com.