It was my first time with nothing more than a mic, a story I was ready to tell, and a paid audience.
The audience came to listen. I came to speak. But it felt like something else was going on. It felt like I was driving, or maybe flying, this huge room of 200+ people.
I was the fourth in the evening’s lineup of storytellers, so I had observed the audience’s reactions. When it was my turn at the mic, I took a chance and made a tiny extemporaneous comment: I connected the story I was setting up – which was about being nervous on the first day of school – with how I was feeling onstage at that moment (again, nervous) and said: “Kinda’ like now.”
The audience laughed.
And then I knew we had connected. Like tapping the brakes on an unfamiliar car to test how responsive it is. The audience responded, instantaneously, to my words.
As a mother of three strong willed kids, with an independent-minded spouse, and two trained-but-over-it-already dogs, being listened to, acknowledged, and responded to, are rare experiences for me.
From that point on it felt like I wasn’t just speaking—I was taking a roomful of people on a 10-minute trip with ups and downs and climbs and rolls— and they went along for the ride. Even laughing in places I hadn’t expected, fueling my confidence.
It felt like they were on my side, engaged, empathetic and generous with understanding and laughter.
They were the perfect audience for a first-time storyteller who was fighting off a lot of nerves in order to take the stage.
It was an unforgettable experience. It felt like flying, only this time I was the pilot.