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Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot

The Joy and Agony of Preparing for a Turf Talk

Posted 01 October 2017 · 1,134 views

The Joy and Agony of Preparing for a Turf Talk

I don't do many speaking gigs. 

 

That seems weird for a guy who loves and eats and drinks communication. It's not that I'm afraid of public speaking. That fear went away long ago. It's not that I don't love the actual events. I marvel at the quality of the education that is presented to Turfheads and how good the interactions can be.

 

What makes me take on just a few of these every year and be very picky about who I am speaking to has to do with the mental side of preparing for these very important events. You see, I have been to so many bad talks and bad presentations, that next to being a fried in oil, my biggest fear is being awful. Yes, awful comes in many levels, but still...If you suck, you suck. If you don't deliver, well, no one has the pizza.

 

Next week, I am speaking to the Intermountain GCSA, the Utah and surrounding area group. Longtime TurfNet member and star interviewee of one of my podcasts, Justin Woodland invited me and well, he's just not the kind of guy that you turn down. And he also told me that my fellow TurfNet contributor Hector Velasquez was going to be part of the show. Can't-miss a moment with Hector. Have called Woody a friend for some time and have never met him in person. Wendover, Nevada is close to places I go. Just couldn't find a reason to say no.

 

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Yes, awful comes in many levels, but still...If you suck, you suck. If you don't deliver, well, no one has the pizza.

 

 

Over the last several weeks, I've been obsessing about the two, 2-hour talks I have to give. One is on Communications and one is about Carbon Fertilization and if you know me, you know that I can sit and talk endlessly on these subjects. They are my favorite. My passion. My je ne sais quoi (that's, "certain special something" to you non-French speakers out there). I can bore the paint right off the wall with my brain melting database of human blather on these subjects. I have hard drives full of pictures, charts, graphs, studies, monkeys, soil tests and all the related stupid speaker gear that is used to make sumo-sized powerpoint presentations and numb minds with visuals and stories. 

 

But that's not what I wanna do. And that's not what people need. I don't think that endless sets of digitally enhanced presentations with all the cool and unique transitions are the deal. Think about it. As Winter approaches, you will go to many seminars to keep up with our ever changing world. And there will be 1000's of slides squashed into hard drives to drive these points home. Data. Chart. Graph. Cool Pic. Cooler pic of next level technique..... yawn.

 

So I try to bring something different. Yes. I am a slave to Powerpoint and KeyNote. They help me create a roadmap, not because I get lost, but because I tend to love side trips, often in the opposite direction.

 

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Next week, I am speaking to the Intermountain GCSA, the Utah and surrounding area group. Longtime TurfNet member and star interviewee of one of my podcasts, Justin Woodland invited me and well, he's just not the kind of guy that you turn down.

 

 

But I demand interaction. I often make people work together in dyads or triads or some kind of small group. I often throw out problem-solving sessions that are designed to make people think, not just about the topic at hand, but how they present and interact with that topic.

 

And I like to read the room. Demographics. Job Titles. Part of the Country. Hangover. After a big lunch. Etc. All this comes into play.

 

I paid a lot of money a few years back to attend a seminar called "World's Greatest Speaker Training". The seminar leaders were: Brendon Burchard, online marketing and seminar guru; Bo Eason, Ex NFL Player and star of an award-winning one-man play; Roger Love, THE Vocal Coach to the stars. I took it all in and you know what the big takeaway was? Simple. Know and interact with your audience in ways they have never been known or interacted with. Yeah. Simple. And so complicated. Four days of pushing my limits by watching real professionals push theirs. Hmmmmm. Interesting. I was riveted because they were pushing hard.

 

So today, a few days away from the event, I am in Agony. I am sorting through all the notes and materials that I have to make sure that I create a roadmap that helps me deliver. I feel the responsibility and the weight of making sure I'm prepped and ready, down to having the right socks on.

 

And I am feeling Joy. What a cool thing and a cool opportunity to come and share. I'm not the end all oracle of knowledge. But the real joy will be seeing people finding their own way through the info with a little guidance.

 

And let me ask you this, when you go and see me speak or anyone else, would you remember that the speaking gig is a pretty tough gig? If there is tech difficulty or the occasional stage fright or something else, would you be kind? If there is a question and answer opportunity, ask questions. Follow that person's social media after their talk and see what comes up. Remember they traveled a distance to get there and will go yet another to get home.

 

I don't do many speaking gigs. And I thought I would let you see why.

 


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Paul MacCormack
Oct 10 2017

Hey Dave, Your honesty on this topic is quite refreshing. It is really tough to stand up in front of your peers and speak, but you know what? When I speak to those who attend after giving a talk they are generally very appreciative and respectful. There are always those who don't care or completely zone out...but that's just life. 

 Hope it went well, would love to have you visit the East Coast sometime and talk...about whatever you want.

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