I was recently asked to give a speech at a Marie Curie corporate fundraising event. I was completely shocked to be asked to be honest, but also honoured in equal measures. So the panic began of trying to compose a suitable speech. I’m not by any means short of words, written or spoken but to compose something to read out aloud whilst standing in front of actual living and breathing humans, would be enough to send my hair curly, if it wasn’t already. Anyway, on with it I must and that is what I did.
Last night was the event, held at a posh restaurant I wouldn’t usually go to for fear of looking out of place. Instantly I was warmly welcomed by the city suits. The evening started with a speech from Mr Mayor himself, who gave his talk whilst holding his very modest glass of wine and nothing written down. What a pro! The wine indeed flowed but I restrained myself after the one glass….no one would want to hear from a slurring widow. I was already told that my speech was to be between the main and dessert, so you can imagine the feeling of dread I felt, whilst tucking into my canon of lamb….it was enough to wretch it back up.
Finally, the time arrived. I was called to the lectern by the hospice manager who gave some words before me. Straight away I was hit with a problem. I had printed my speech off on small cards which I thought would look neater so you can imagine my horror when I faced a microphone that you have to hold. Oh no! What I am I going to do now? I was only blessed with two hands and both of those are going to be busy…one holding the cards and the other, the mic. How will I turn the cards? No time to think…..I’ve got to start…they’re all looking at me.
The second problem I encountered was realising and regretting that I wore a black dress. Nothing wrong with a black dress, but I’m not doing much good for the widow stereotype am I? Again, no time to worry, just get on with it.
So on with it I did. I surprised myself at how well it was going actually. I paced, I paused, I made eye contact, I managed to turn the cards whilst holding the mic, I managed not to cry. At the end, I could see members of the audience dabbing their eyes and a sense of achievement came over me. Not because I wish to make people cry with my story, but the whole point of this evening was to raise money for this wonderful charity and the only way to encourage people to dig deep is to connect with them emotionally. Wet eyes told me that I had made a connection and that was all I could ask for. I even got a standing ovation.
I bashfully returned to my table, grateful of the refill of wine and the smiling faces on my table. A feeling of relief and pride washed over me, as I tucked into my cheesecake. Next time, I think I’ll wear a yellow dress.