Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
I made my first book-related presentation last night, at the Pacific North West Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society. They are indeed a friendly, easy audience–as I’d been assured before-hand.
I made hundreds of presentations during my years at Intel, but this was different. I had to talk about history and wasn’t sure the names and incidents would “flow trippingly from the tongue.” I wanted it to be an interesting story and knew that I couldn’t ramble on.
Once I began, I had trouble finding the little blue right-facing arrow, which is really hard to see when you are standing away from the laptop screen. About half-way through I realized that I could just left-click the mouse to change slides. Nor am I yet accustomed to the laser-pointer, which Gary gave me just before we left for the meeting.
Al had suggested that I aim for 45 min. and I’d practiced the presentation at home a couple of times, but felt that it was running a little long. To make matters worse, the business meeting–which came first–ran really long; then there was a half-hour break for snacks. I didn’t start until 9 PM, but did my best to keep up the pace. Gary reported that I clocked in at 35 min. Although discomfited by the minor technical challenges, I still managed to look at and make eye contact with the audience of ~50. One man fell asleep before I started, otherwise everyone seemed to remain alert and engaged.
We had time for a few questions; then three people bought copies of the book. As announced before-hand, I gave half the proceeds to the Chapter.
Next time will be easier. I’m now hoping that “next time” will be in June at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento (see photo on this website’s page “A sense of place and time”). Paul Hammond, Museum Director, responded with interest (and apologies) on Feb. 10 to the proposal I’d sent on Nov. 28. He asked for more information, which I provided, of course, and, as he also requested, included Kendra Dillard, curator of exhibits and also involved in public programming) and Kyle Wyatt (curator of history and technology) on my reply.