In addition to being a newspaper columnist, author, television and radio commentator and vlogger, I’m a public speaker. Ever say a word over and over again until it sounds totally odd and unnatural? Take “Public Speaker” — as opposed to what– a “Private Speaker”? Oh trust me, I’m one of those too. Just ask my husband and children. Or the dogs.
It’s somewhat amusing to me the responses a title will garner. A wonderful woman from my home state called to ask if I’d be willing to speak at a mother-daughter event. After apologizing profusely for calling me at home (as opposed to where I don’t know) and explaining how she heard me speak a few months ago at conference and got my number from So and So who hired me for that venue and then apologizing that her venue was not as large but I would still be willing to consider…. I finally interrupted her. “Sally, listen to me. I’m standing in my kitchen surrounded by seven piles of dirty laundry. I’m first a wife and a mom just like you.
Little could Sally imagine my awe I felt for her when, after finally meeting and chatting in person, I learned she was an ICU nurse. I was immensely impressed and a wee bit intimidated by her intelligence, skill and humility. She caught me staring at her over dessert the day of the speaking engagement so I blurted, “Can you look at this spot on the back of my hand? I think I’m dying…”
What clout, besides maybe a free mole check, does this get me? Not much. So far, shouting, “Yeahbut I’m a Public Speaker!” has not gotten me out of an hour and a half wait at Olive Garden, traffic ticket or paying my exorbitant library overdue fines. I’ve not been bumped to the front of the line at the grocery store or up to first class on a five-hour over-booked flight full of sumo wrestlers and screaming children. I’m still waiting to be picked as a seat warmer at the Oscars and as a spokeswoman for perimenopausal prescriptions.
Sometimes, depending on the speaking engagement, I do get food. Free food. And well, that’s clout in my book. I mean please — any meal I don’t have to shop for, chop, slice, dice bake, cram into a brown paper lunch bag or clean up after is a priceless treat for me! My husband had a shirt made for me: On the front it says, “Will Speak For Food.” On the back? “Wine is considered a bonus!”
So let me know if you need a hungry speaker for your next conference, meeting or event. And if you throw in a nice Chardonnay, I’ll probably lower my fee.