My meeting went really well. People were impressed and I can't help feeling a tiny bit proud.
I was here in Denver for a public meeting and part of the time was devoted to talking about a study I'm working on. It's been in process for months and we're getting close to hitting the ground. We're taking the unusual step of doing some outreach and I have to say, it's exciting. This is why I'm still in my job—projects like this. They don't come around often, and I was very lucky to get it. I fought for it, in fact, and I am going prove that I'm worthy of the challenge. While I have some shortcomings in other areas, it looks like this may be my moment.
At the meeting, I stood up in front of 150 people to explain my study. I spoke for 20 minutes and then I answered question for about an hour. A few times, a question was an excuse to air an unrelated issue, sometimes I was getting a direct challenge to the study approach. Still, I had no problem answering and I enjoyed the interaction. I was much better in the Q&A than the presentation.
Afterwards, all of the event staff complimented me on how I handled things, some of them more than once. One lady gave me a hug (why? I'm not sure, but I didn't mind). My DC co-workers told me I handled it well. The local office staff—about 5 or 6 people, all told me they were impressed. The other meeting staff all complimented me on my poise. Another woman said, "I don't know if you were nervous but you couldn't tell. Your voice was completely level when you answered the questions. You handled it really well." Another woman told me, "They can tell that you mean what you say and they trust you. That's really important." Trust is my agenda here and I was delighted to hear that I'm succeeding.
What can I say? I was tremendously pleased. It's so hard to judge how things like this have gone over, especially since I haven't been in this situation very often. But I am the face of this project and, honestly, I had very little nerves in the question period. The study is my baby and I know it inside and out. Now, some questions, I had to improvise a bit, but I could handle it.
I've also been saying, I don't mind if they challenge me. In fact, bring it on. Let me have it. Let's get all the issues and problems out in the open and see if we can deal with them. Maybe I can, maybe I can't, but at least I'll try. I have learned from everything I heard over the last two days. I know what the major concerns are and that lets me know what challenges are coming. Plus, l also heard lots of good ideas that will improve the study and make it more useful for everyone.
I have six more of these meeting to attend and I'm really looking forward to them. My only worry is that I'll burn out on all the travel. Not to mention that by the end of the day my throat was sore and I was mentally exhausted. It is a lot of sitting around and talking. As I also said, "As much as I like to talk, it was a LOT of me talking!" At least I got a chuckle in response.
Grateful for: a challenge.