Monday, January 28, 2008

Comfort Level Inventory

I haven't even confessed to Robin yet-- well, until now, that against my better judgement, I went ahead and agreed to a particular school visit as part of my pre-launch plan that we both agreed was pushing the limits for this card-carrying introvert.

Remember the Comfort Level Inventory she presented to help us decide what marketing activities work best for us? The categories were:


Then she gave us a long list of activities to consider in the development of our marketing plan. Things like radio interviews, internet interviews, television, postcard mailing, press releases, teaching, message boards, book signings, school classroom visits, school ASSEMBLY visits-- (sound of me choking on that last one). We were to assign the various activities to the categories above. She gave us permission to stay in Feels Comfortable and Could Get Used To It. She's nice that way.

I do a lot of public speaking in my work and while I still get clammy pits, once I get going, I usually enjoy it. I love teaching, especially adults. The only activity that hit the COLD DAY IN HELL was talking to an Assembly of the wee ones.

So, it follows that I went ahead and agreed to do this. Wha-a-a-t?? To very, very many children. Of very, very many ages. (And, just in case their principal is reading this-- Oh, hi! I can't wait! Wheee! It is going to be so much fun! And, um, could you please stop reading now and go to an urgent meeting or something?)

Help! This is a classic example of me trying to be paisley when you'd think I'd learned by now that I'm polka-dotted. Both sides, top and bottom, too. I might as well stick a high voltage energy-sucking cable right to my brain and throw the switch to Total Melt-down Mode.

Stand back, friends, I'm buzzing through a few fingernails here. Hold on while I go get a brown paper bag to help me breathe.

Okay, better. Actually breathing now. Big sigh. You know, I have a wise friend that says "Don't anticipate pain." Same could be said, I suppose, for all sort of things we dread. Don't anticipate chaos, or mayhem, or failure. I've got to stay in present. Hey, maybe by the time the date rolls around, I'll be in jail or something, and I'll have a really good excuse for not showing up. I could just get lucky.

Before I forget, don't forget to vote on whether you like Ms. Viola's *new* look, or like the pre-makeover version. She's waiting, desperate to hear from you. Email me your vote and you'll be entered in the drawing to win a great marketing book called Plug Your Book! by Steve Weber. Last day you can enter is this Thursday, January 31st.

Back to work on Marketing Plan for now. Adding a note on Assembly Day entry to take books, postcards and several brown paper bags.

Later, friends,



R.L. LaFevers said...

OMG! I can't believe you said yes to that!

Except...I know you and you ALWAYS rise to the occasion and you will give a fabulous presentation and ensure that every child--from kindergarten to {gulp!} sixth grade will find something of value.

You, however, will need to be scraped up off the floor when you're done. I'll be right behind you with my dustpan and shovel!

Mary Hershey said...

Thanks, Robin, for your confidence AND the dustpan. Gah, what was I thinking????????

This truly is going to be my Stretch Goal 2008, an interesting experiment, or a funny story for my old age.


Anonymous said...

Mary, you could always get struck by lightning, right? Isn't that one of those 10 lucky things?

Seriously, speaking to such a wide age range is asking for trouble. If you cater to the young ones so they don't squirm, the older ones will be bored, and if your talk is aimed at the older kids (which is the real audience for your books), you will lose the little ones, and that won't be pretty.

I think you should call back and say that you would like to split the age groups up. Yes, this means more preparation for you, but believe me, it will work out so much better -- and you will stop hyperventilating into a paper bag every time you think of what's in store for you.

Since it's spring semester, I think the second graders would be good to go with their older peers. You talk for 30-45 minutes, then take questions for 15.

Then meet informally with the kinders and the first graders for no longer than 30 minutes (20 is better with kinders).

Jennifer J.

Anonymous said...

"Don't anticipate pain." My brother-in-law's variation on this is, "Stop living in the wreckage of the future." :)

I agree with the recommendations about breaking down the group. Also, practice. Not in front of kids, but in a nice, safe, quiet place, but let yourself visualize a face or two of nice, friendly, fascinated kids!

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Sometimes it's good to stretch those boundaries beyond the comfort zone (as long as we get to boomerang back into the comfort zone for recovery right afterward). As long as you've committed to it, have as much fun as you can with it!

As for Ms. Viola--I am not in a position to give fashion advice. I'm the kind of person who thinks that shoes should be comfortable, and who cares how they look. I'm the kind of person who thinks that anything fancier than sweatpants is "dressing up." When I watch makeover shows I tend to wail, "Why did they have to cut off all her hair?" :-)

Terry P. said...

OMG,Mary. I know exactly how you're feeling. I felt the same way before my first school visit (okay, I'll admit that I still feel that way everytime I agree to do one). But, here's what I do: practice, practice, practice! I practice until I can do my presentation in my sleep. That way, should anything go wrong (short of me passing out), the show will go and I know I'll have the confidence once I get rolling. Doing an assembly is not much different than other speaking engagements--you just have to be prepared and know your audience. Both of which you do very well. So, chin up, m' girl! You'll be maaavelous!

Terry P.

Anonymous said...

I did the same thing once. I will do almost anything to avoid public speaking, and then I went and volunteered for it. I still don't know what made me do it. It's like some invisible force inhabited my body for a few moments. I can't imagine why I did it.

So, shaking knees hidden by a podium, I made my speech, thought it was awful - and then got reviews that said things like, "very composed, well organized, strong voice projection." Huh? Me? Couldn't they tell I was terrified? Apparently, no.

The invisible hand is telling you that you can do it, and do it well, I think.

P.S. I'm a lurker here and I think this is a wonderful site!


Anonymous said...


I agree with other comments about breaking your school visit into two assemblies. At the school I used to work at we divided ours K-2 and 3-5. This worked out perfect! The nice thing about doing it this way is almost everyone has a seat.

Um, however . . .

If I were the reluctant speaker, I would do it once and get it over with!!!!