A little over two years ago, Gordon gave his presentation, “My Brain Has A Hole In It” for the first time to a group of close friends. That experience started us on a new path–Inspirational Speaking! But who, other than friends, would want to listen to us? Would we be inspirational to people who had never heard of us?
Gordon and I started making phone calls, trying to book an opportunity to speak to an audience of strangers. It took some time but we were eventually introduced to Dennis, an active member of Rotary. After a delightful meeting in front of a local coffee shop, Dennis agreed to give us a chance.
Our first speaking engagement was to the Greater Clark County Rotary of Vancouver, Washington. I was very nervous for Gordon but he was completely confident. I don’t think he even considered that the presentation might not go well. Gordon was right–he got a standing ovation.
Two years have gone by and so much has happened. Gordon has given well over 100 speeches. I’ve published a book and have launched my own speaking career.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to that same Rotary Club, back where we started. This time Gordon was nervous for me! No need to be nervous, Rotary clubs are filled with wonderful people. This time, it was my turn to get a standing ovation 😉
I was good, but Jill is BETTER. She effortlessly delivers her talk with conviction and empathy. Every time I withess here delivering her talk, I get shivers down my spine. Don’t tell her I said this: She’s fantastic!
AND Jill is getting rave reviews: I pulled a couple for you to read:
“I love this book. An inspiring account of a family responding to tragedy with optimism, humor, faith and perseverance. A rerminder of how connected we all are and how we can help others.”
“Read your book today. Inspiring! Took your book to my son’s baseball game and could not put it down for more than 5 minutes at a time. I could have easily missed the entire game to read this amazing story. I was glued to my seat reading your story in the sunshine and in the rain – found myself chuckling out loud, and even shed a few tears.”
“Jill and Gordon share some of their great life learning’s and advice that I love. I also really appreciated the bible verse quotes as it really helped connect what Jill and Gordon were going through to how to look to and use God during these extremely challenging times.” Cara Taylor
… “She tells an honest story that demonstrates not only her strength of character, and the depth of maturity in the children (reflecting the character of the parents) but also of her humility to accept what life has offered, but a resoluteness of will to recover and move forward.” P. Griffith Lindell
“The story you and Jill shared was inspiring, thought-provoking and a welcome departure from our typical speakers at this event.”
President & CEO, Oregon Bankers Association
“Working, as we do, in the health care and insurance fields your presentation helped reinforce how important it is for us to always remember that the work we do is ultimately about being there for our members when they need us most. Your story is a window into what others may be experiencing and how critical is the need for compassionate, competent healthcare.”
VP, Kaiser Permanente
“Jill made their experience relevant to our audience by sharing how the disability insurance coverage that their family had purchased made it possible for them to meet their financial obligations.”
Janet Schober | Manager, IDI Sales Program
It is so simple…a fifth grader can do it. So why do I have such a hard time remembering
what to bring to my presentations..even after 2 years of doing it? Jill created her famous CheckList. She has a list for everything: shopping, travel, Costco, Target, Christmas,Things To Do, etc. EVERYTHING.
At first, I said “Don’t be silly. I don’t need a CheckList.” But, she still prepared one for me “just in case.” And I am glad she did. I only had 5 things to remember…and I forgot the slide show! How could I do that? I was proud that I remembered the Speaker Introduction, my water, the speakers, and iPad….but I forgot the slide show. Fortunately, we didn’t leave and Jill quickly handed me her CheckList, which you will see below. Now, every time, I go over the CheckList. Each time (and I have given over 100 presentations) I say “thank you so much for doing this for me.” Jill is a star! She just smiles.
-A table (close by): I use my laptop so I can see the slides being projected
-I have a few video clips that must have sound; (I will need to make sure that the sound from the video goes thru the sound system)
-Cordless lapel mic
-20 Minute Presentation
-30 Minute SALES Presentation
-40 Minute Keynote
-Q & A -Jill Viggiano
-Emailed CORRECT version to iPad
-RECEIVED Correct Version
-Everyone need Bookmarks
-Clip board with emails
-Avg price per book
-Ask for Refs
Sometimes I forget what it was like when Gordon could speak freely. At home, we have mostly normal conversations–he says a sentence, I say a sentence, and so on. He needs a few prompts now and then but we mostly understand each other. But when we go to a meeting or have a phone appointment, I watch his language disappear. It is clear from the look on his face that he is trying SO HARD to get coherent, orderly words to come out of his mouth. Instead, choppy, disorganized words start coming, then all words stop and he looks at me to express his thoughts for him.
For a long time, I thought if he could relax, the words would come. Not so. Regaining language and cognition is much more complicated than that. Even now, 6 years post-stroke, we have at least one conversation every day where Gordon starts in the middle of a thought and I have to ask him to start over from the beginning of his thought. It doesn’t occur to him that I don’t know what he is thinking.
I just finished my second semester in the Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic at Portland State University.
Last semester, I had such a wonderful student. She really cared how I was doing and truly gave it her all. I felt it was my job to do my best.
This semester, I had a different student: Hollis Magee. At first, she did everything “different” then the student who I admired. I sensed, she was a bit tougher…and I was inspired by it. And you know what, my progress EXCELLED during my weeks with her! What I realized is everyone has there own style of teaching and that we should appreciate that and learn from them. I attribute it to the fact that she did really care and had excellent counseling from the faculty. The students and faculty are FANTASTIC and they honestly do really care about the people they treat. My hat is off to them…doing such an amazing job with their patients. I can’t wait for the fall semester. Bless you Hollis Magee.
In March at the recommendation of our friend David, I entered my book (at that time, still unpublished) in the Oregon Christian Writers Contest. Last week, I received notice that I am a finalist in the competition! The winners in all categories will be announced August 6. I am honored to be considered and excited to see where all this will lead us.
In the meantime, I am constantly encouraged by people who have read Painful Blessing. It is important to me that the book be meaningful to anyone who reads it, not just those affected by stroke. It is a wonderful experience to listen to people’s reactions and feelings and then to hear their stories.
Jill did another Book Tour in Springfield, OR.
It was during lunch and I must say, it was extremely successful. Jill spoke for 10 minutes and then people asked questions for over an hour. WOW. They asked everything! A few people even decided to ask me a question.
The first person asked me a question. For the first time, I didn’t understand what he meant. I thought about it, but was uncertain how to answer. Luckily, Jill answered. Then, someone else asked a question. Again, I didn’t quite know what he meant. Normally, I understand everything…I just can’t get the words out. I never had this issue before of not understanding the question. I will have to see if this continues.
My book, Painful Blessing, has now been available for a month–long enough for people to read it and respond with their reactions. It is wonderful to hear from people who can relate to our experiences or who are inspired to face their challenges more boldly.
Now that our story is out there for anyone to read, we have the opportunity to listen to people who would otherwise NEVER speak about their own struggles. I am reminded that everyone wants to be heard and understood. By telling our story, others feel safe telling us their stories. It is humbling and gratifying.
Did you ever get that feeling?
I finished my last blog and was really excited to get to my next blog; the idea was VERY clear and I couldn’t wait to write it. Since it was SO clear, I decided I didn’t need to write it down. How could I forget something so fantastic as that?
Well…. I forgot it! I have no idea what I was going to write about. Maybe it was a continuation of my “no presentation” talk. Or, maybe it was the details of putting my speech on the USB?
BUT I got something out my frustration. I will write down my ideas on the NEXT blog; I just won’t publish them until I am ready. See, I got something positive out of it!