Big disappointment and setback happened yesterday: I was not able to present my speech at the Toastmasters meeting last night. It was a huge letdown because I had been preparing for that moment for weeks last night. It was not for lack of preparation either. I could not give the speech last night simply because I could not get plugged in.
My speech preparation started immediately the day after the St. Louis Cardinals (my favorite team) won the World Series, on Saturday evening, October 29th. With baseball no longer pre-occupying me, I sat down that Saturday evening to compose my next speech and accompanying power point for Toastmasters. It took all evening and real late into Sunday morning to finish the speech. Inspiration hit and I did not want to stop it, even if it meant missing out on attending the Cardinals victory parade in downtown St. Louis.
The St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series may never happen again in my lifetime, but it still was an easy decision for me. No matter how much I love baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals. It came down to my biggest priority: my life’s mission to educate and inspire people to take action to resolve climate change. I passed by this possible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate St. Louis Cardinal red so I can promote living green for our planet.
On Sunday evening, October 30th, I presented my speech for the first time to my mentor in Toastmasters. He seemed very pleased with the speech and had very helpful suggestions. A week later, I spent a day practicing it with my godmother who is always a tough task master with me. The next day, I practiced the speech with a former Toastmaster. I drove this past Monday night to see a family friend to present it to him as he was working late hours as principal of his school. Yesterday, I practiced it again for my parents and two of their close friends before they were literally walking out the door for a short vacation in Branson, Missouri. I practiced the speech three times before the meeting last night. After all this preparation, I was pumped up, locked-in, PLUGGED AWAY and fully prepared to inspire my audience that IT IS EASY AND FUN TO BE GREEN.
There was one glitch to my well prepared speech that I found out immediately when I arrived at the Toastmasters meeting: the landlord of the building where Toastmasters meets would not allow us to plug in our electronic devices. I arrived at the meeting in plenty of time around 6:43 pm for the 7:00 pm starting time. However no matter how early I arrived, the news was going to be the same: I could not give my speech with the power point. The leaders of Toastmasters politely gave me a choice, I could give my speech without power point or I could delay until the next meeting to present my speech. I felt I had no choice but to delay until a future meeting. I have a great message IT IS EASY AND FUN TO BE GREEN. The message was not going to connect as meaningful and as inspirational with without the power point images, accompanying humor, and the suggested tips I provide how you can be easily be green in your own home.
My speech would not have the same punch, not the same impact, without being plugged into electricity. Pictures are worth a thousand words. I had beautiful images of nature, funny pictures of the Toastmasters members, and solid statistics to project on a big screen. This was all to persuade my audience that being green saves you cash. Experts on public speaking say that you have got to know your audience to be present a successful speech. This speech was designed specifically for this St. Louis South County Toastmaster audience. I know I would have wowed them with this speech, but I needed electricity to do so.
It was very ironic that I needed electricity to present a message to be green. Would it not have made more sense to skip the electricity, the power point, the laptop and the projector to just present the speech to be green? The answer is no. I could not see how the speech would not have made the same meaningful impact with my audience. Last night reminded me of the old expression of fighting forest wildfires: sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Or, in my case, I had to stick to my guns of being less green (using electricity) to promote a message for all of us to be more green (live more sustainably by using less electricity).
The world’s leading voices for reducing the impact of climate change, such as the late Dr. Stephen Schneider, have had to struggle with this green dilemma. The big question all the climate change reduction advocates: How do you convince people to be green when it takes a lot of electricity and carbon to get out this message. Traveling in airplanes is one of the biggest carbon footprints one can have. In a very large picture, jet setting across the world does beg to ask the question if these folks are energy hogs. On a very small picture, ironically, I insisted last night that I needed electricity to give a presentation on living green to persuade people to use less electricity. What is the answer?
In the book Science as a Contact Sport by Dr. Stephen Schneider on page 162 addresses this question directly. He professor at Stanford University one of the world’s leading climatologists until his death in 2010. He would directly ask his students, “Is your professor a hypocrite for having over 90 percent of his carbon footprint in the skies and thus far above the U.S. average?” Great Question to ask. His students then defended him by responding, “No, you may use more CO2 than average, but your work can save many millions of tons.”
Unfortunately, American and humans collectively across the globe have not agreed yet that it is in our best interest to reduce our carbon emissions and the threat of climate change. Until then, communicators of climate change, like me, will have to use carbon and electricity to provide the most effective message to inspire people take action to reduce the threat of climate change. Ironically, I will have to use electricity with my presentations and even travel by car and plane to persuade people to be green. The big message of being green is ultimately to live more sustainably with the earth, reduce your carbon footprint, and use less electricity.
Since I use the electricity of power point to convey this message that it is easy and fun for us to be green, my Toastmaster speech had to be delayed the next meeting on Wednesday, November 30th. For the health of the planet and future generations, the message that cannot wait. However, to have the most effective and inspiring message to my audience, the speech had to wait. Just a temporary delay as I keep plugging away with my message: IT IS EASY AND FUN TO BE GREEN. Finally, no matter how much I love baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the sweetness of the recent 2011 World Series victory, inspiring people to be green and reduce the threat of climate change is my greatest passion.