I like to talk – to the point where I am consciously aware that I am bothering the people around me … and yet I continue. As a mitigating consideration, (fingers crossed) I don’t think I’m boring.
That fact that I suffer from logerrhea is probably one of the reasons I have been able to maintain this website or as long as I have, otherwise I would have run out of things to talk about years ago (evidence might suggest that I did, in fact, run out of things to talk about years ago). But it is because of this site that so many opportunities have come my way over the past seven years. The most recent one is taking place this coming Thursday when I will take the stage as the kickoff keynote speaker for the AIA Florida Convention … and I am more than a little nervous about it.
Over the past several years, I have presented dozens of seminars at a multitude of conferences and spoken to architecture programs around the country – and as far as I know, they all went pretty well. I’ve never received any negative feedback, but I don’t put a lot of stock in that … people are generally pretty nice and my topics don’t typically elicit really strong feelings toward either end of the spectrum. I was once told that whenever you are speaking, say to 100 people, that 5 people will love it, 5 people will hate it, and the other 90 people are just rooting for you. Not a particularly high bar but if you are anything like me, one of your main motivators is to avoid disappointing people.
I’ve known about this presentation for months … but I am only now finalizing my presentation. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s because I’ve rewritten it about 10 times. Seminars are educational but keynotes are supposed to be INSPIRATIONAL. My keynote is scheduled for 90 minutes and what comes to my mind is:
What could I possibly have to say for 90 minutes that would be inspirational?
In a message from AIA Florida 2017 President Joyce Owens, she writes:
Bob Borson, FAIA, our kickoff speaker, is the nationally recognized and decorated principal of Malone Maxwell Borson Architects, Inc., best known to the profession as the renowned blogger of “Life of an Architect”. We’re bound to laugh and cry as he shares his personal insights into the architectural world which is always informative and inevitably funny.
People are bound to laugh and cry … me off the stage. Okay, not really, that’s just hyperbole. Luckily for me, I don’t really have to fill 90 minutes with – as the kickoff keynote there are other housekeeping items to take care of and they told me that they wanted some time for Q&A at the end.
I have been spending a lot of time over the past few weeks preparing my presentation. I’ve created all new graphics for my slides and I’ve even scripted what I should be talking about. I am not an advocate for scripting a presentation, but because I am prone to talking excessively, I need to make sure that I talk about the things I am supposed to be talking about. For most people who present with any regularity, they know their topic so well that they can literally speak on topic extemporaneously. I would say that I know my subject that well, but I tend to go down the rabbit hole when telling stories. Did I mention that the title of my keynote is “Architects as Storytellers”? It is almost a certainty that I will start telling a story to make a point and in the middle of that story think of something interesting to add, and then I will hijack my own message with this new story … and then I do it again, and again, and the next thing you know, I am talking about how hard it is to cook an over-medium egg and that eating anchovies is like eating an eyebrow. I think these “bonus” stories are awesome, but the people I am talking to are frequently looking at each other with the expressions on their face saying “hahaha, anchovies ARE like eating an eyebrow … but why are you talking about eggs and anchovies?”
I conceded long ago that I am incapable of eliminating rabbit holes from happening when I talk, so to help combat this I write a script. My memory is nowhere good enough to actually memorize this script, but hopefully, it will reinforce what it is that I had intended to talk about in the moment. I will go through this script several times while running through my slides … that’s right, I practice – and I will walk in ready to not disappoint the attendees. While I am anxious (some nervous energy is a good thing) I am pretty excited to present. I get to talk about things that few other architects can talk about – the power and result of having a website like mine and talking to non-architects about being an architect … with all the good, bad, and crazy that comes along with it. Just a small sample of the things I get to talk about include:
- meeting more people in 7 years since I started this site than the previous 42 years combined
- running a global design competition that helps children in foster care
- why being an architect is cooler than being an accountant
- how does someone respond to 36,000 emails
- having my identity stolen repeatedly in sex scams
and much, much more.
If you are planning on attending the AIA Florida Convention, I can’t promise you that I won’t go down a few rabbit holes, but I am confident that it won’t be boring.
Hope to see you there,