Standing in front of an audience was never a career goal for me. I had no intention to do public speaking. My last year of college, I took a mandatory public speaking course over the summer when I knew there would be only a few students in my class. So, when I was first asked to do an assembly for middle school students, I was petrified. I instantly put them to sleep. I recall the topic was bullying, and I used a PowerPoint given to me by someone who had done assemblies in the past. I quickly realized that I needed to make the presentation mine and create my own content based on data if I was to do more assemblies in the future. I challenged myself with developing assemblies that did not put kids to sleep. I used handwritten surveys about every presentation I did and reviewed every student’s feedback to edit, adjust, and ultimately create presentations that kids would learn from, but also enjoy. Quickly, the tide turned; I received positive feedback and kids stayed awake. Problem solved…or so I thought.
I then realized that there were many struggles with technology, social media, and mental health that had to be brought to light to adult audiences. I took screenshots from concerning social media posts and searched for resources to give parents a “quick tutorial” of how to parent in a digital age. Once again, I was faced with standing in front of others talking about technology, but now my audience was different: parents, teachers, counselors, and other child professionals. This audience, I thought, would be much more difficult to speak to. I was very wrong. The adults really wanted to learn about the devices their kids, students, and clients were using. They wanted to know about technology, social media, and mental health. They wanted to know the language so they could have educated discussions with youth about responsible behaviors. Over the years, I was able to develop fun and informational presentations, keynotes, and professional trainings. My comfort level talking to a large group of adults quickly progressed. Stand me in front of 500 adults at a conference. Give me the mic. Problem solved. Again… so I thought.
I was eventually asked to be interviewed for news articles and appear in some broadcasts for local news stations. Once again, I found myself struggling with the desire, confidence, and ability to speak intelligently during an interview and, worst of all, on live TV. But with coaching and confidence building from a friend in a college broadcasting program, I was able to make it through some interviews without tripping over my tongue. Thank you, Haley, for that confidence.
I’m sure there will be many more speaking events and interviews in the future. And I’ll survive. I wanted to share with you some of the articles, interviews, and videos I’ve participated in over the years. There are many resources, food for thought, and pearls of wisdom in these for you.
Together, we can develop a culture that will Create Responsible Kids on Smartphones.