MittenGirl Gives a Speech (and gets a new mitten!)

So, I love my new job. Well, I love my old company and being back is fantastic. I love the people in the department I’m working with now, even though the work itself isn’t really what I do. Or ever have done. But hey, I’m taking a whole lot of good, with a little bit of not-so-good and I’m rolling with it.

We were told that we would have to give speeches on a topic picked out of a hat for the upcoming special “Everyday Superheroes” week. It is a week in which we are tested, toasted, fed constantly and celebrated each workday. It was really fun. Exhausting, but fun. We played all sorts of games, had an Ice Cream social, drinks, food, another group sent us Super Hero cookies… Just lots and lots of stuff. Still being the new girl I put more into it emotionally, you feel like you have to be more “on” than others who are seriously comfortable with their friends and their position among them. I’m tired! Yet, it’s 8:32 on Saturday morning, I’ve been awake for an hour trying to go back to sleep. Since the man is sleeping, the computer is free and I’m blogging. Yay!

So, being a writer and being funny (I hope you agree) and sharing jokes with my new co-workers for the past month, I didn’t feel anxious about writing up a two-minute talk on my easy topic. The idea was to pick an acronym that we all use and may not actually know what it means, who it means, what the letters stand for, etc. Mine was easy, it’s about people that we work with, the people who gave us this hat-full of speech ideas in the first place. I interviewed them, and got a pretty good grasp of it, and knew that I would be presenting the last speech on the last day, so I would have time to hear what everyone else did.

Most gave a 2-minute or so reading of facts. A few went all out. Costumes, props, dancing, you name it. I said, okay, I’m going to go all out, too. I had a few ideas percolating and the speech was being formed in my head as I drove back and forth over the past number of days.

The night before my speech, we had an off-site happy hour. I started to feel even more sure that I should give a funny speech, and that I’m getting more comfortable with my new peeps by the minute. I had planned to stop at the mall, now that I was on the correct road to do so, and make a return at Old Navy.

On line at the store, I saw an integrated ice-scraper waterproof mitten. My topic is Business integration. This mitten is the key to my speech. Plus, it’s a mitten. Of course Mittengirl wants an ice-scraping mitten!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe I want the whole crate of them!

Happily, it just so happens that one of our supervisors is a woman from England. Her name is Elizabeth. Could you tell where this is going? She speaks with a wonderful accent, and I am so definitely going to call upon Elizabeth of England to “knight” the integrators with “Ye Olde Navy Mitten of Integration”!!!! I asked her to participate beforehand and she mentioned that she happened to be wearing her half-crown today and I am certainly the most recent in a long, long line of people to give her this persona.

I had a bunch of jokes in my speech. I “integrated” some of the games we played into the proceedings. When I took the mitten from the bag, the audience started cheering. I went on for a bit, imagining aloud the meeting in which the clothing-store executives decided to manufacture this item, and what the Business Integrator’s role would have been in the situation. I had a lot of fun with it, made fun of stodgy executives, bashed the marketing folks (as an ex-marketeer, I’m allowed!), and this earned me a lot of laughs. When I announced that we were about to give certificates to the integrators and knight them with the mitten, we were at a dull roar. By the time each of the three were inducted and received the certificate with their superhero name and title that I crafted in Microsoft Word, they were clapping. I announced with a little curtsy that this wraps up our presentations and we are joining them to their regularly-scheduled program, but I was now being drowned out by all the hootin’, hollerin’, and squealing! Once I put my reading material (wrinkled from being clutched so hard) down on the table, I had to turn around and face the wall, I was too embarrassed to look at them!

This exercise, we had been told from the beginning, was a good way to enhance our development. Soon, some of our department is expected to appear at customer-facing meetings and give speeches and be comfortable. They wanted us to practice in front of our work “family”. I gave a funny speech that they were still talking about and congratulating me for hours later. However, I looked down at my paper the whole time. Whenever I’ve given a speech or presented anything in the past, I’ve always looked hard at my material, whether it be paper in front of me, or a slideshow on the screen. I’d look at people for a beat or two, then go right back to staring at the words until they started to blur.

I’m always better writing on deadline. That speech was “made” by seeing and purchasing that mitten. So, I spent most of the workday yesterday writing up my speech. Had I had an evening or a few quiet hours to get comfortable with it, I may have been able to look up from my 14-point typed one-sheet. I felt so supported and appreciated. They were getting me, the me who is serious and factual, with a lot of laughs. We were told that this was for family, we would be able to support and tease each other and make everyone in the group comfortable. And, sitting there, red-faced, I felt like I could have been that natural-speech giver in the room, able to look at people and respond to things being called out with quick-witted rejoinders. Pacing the room, making eye contact, all the things I admire. All the things needed to be able to do stand-up comedy. I’ve made some significant strides. I wish I had my speech at all memorized, I would have been able to grow leaps and bounds! I could-a been a contendah!

Still, so very proud today. Excited, because maybe I could, a year or seven from now, get up on an open-mic night and give a 2-minute spot.

Maybe.

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