Recently I facilitated a two-day leadership experience for a small cohort of professionals. This was their final session, and they had some good, hard work to do in order to leverage the investment in their own learning and leadership development. They were a small group. Six to be exact, and we were working in a smallish conference room that kept us in close proximity to one another. No need for a podium or microphone for sure.
It was indeed good, hard work as is always the case when we choose to take on our own development,when we choose to show up more fully for ourselves so that we can show up more fully for the work we do and those we serve.
I love this kind of work. Close, intimate and small-scale.
But that isn't what this post is about.
It's about the podium.
In order to access our small 375 sq. ft. conference room, we had to make our way through a large, 3200 sq. ft. ballroom. The second morning during a break the hotel event manager and I were walking through the ballroom, which was empty of people but had been set up for the next event. Ready to accommodate several hundred people, a stage, podium and microphone were already in place.
As we were walking through that empty space, I saw the podium and stopped mid-stride. It was as if there was a magnet on my chest pulling me towards it. I couldn't help myself, and asked if we could stop for a moment, as I knew that I couldn't NOT go there. I walked up onto the stage, stepped up to the podium, looked out at the sea of empty tables, and said into the turned-off microphone, "I can't believe how much I miss this!" I miss the stage. I miss the podium. I miss the microphone, I miss sharing a message with a great big roomful of people. It's something I've gotten to do a good number of times in the course of my work. Just not lately.
Why do I love speaking to a big audience? Trying to be as honest as possible here, it is true that there is an element to it that feeds something in me. The need to be seen? Respected? Appreciated? Yep. That is part of it for sure. But there is more to it than that. When a roomful of people hear a message that moves them, there is a collective energy, wisdom and connection that happens. Incongruent as it sounds, often the larger the audience the more intimate the experience. Sometimes going it together in large numbers, gathered around a shared message, reminds us that we are not alone in our attempts to not only make sense of things, but to make our lives count for something meaningful. For whatever reason, speaking to an audience calls to me, and it is something for which I seem to be equipped.
I love this kind of work. Close, intimate and large-scale.
The thought of speaking to a group of people may not call to you. In fact the very thought of standing before a group of any size may send you running for the nearest exit. But. There is a podium waiting for you. It is the platform for your work in the world, whatever that work is, and whether you get paid for it or not. It is that place where, when you see it, as if there is a magnet on your chest, you can't NOT go there.
What and where is your magnetic pull?
If you don't know or aren't sure, maybe now is the time to find out.
On the other side of that podium, large or small, your audience is waiting for that which only you can share.
On the other side of that podium, we are waiting you.
On the other side of that podium, you are waiting for you.