Friday I went to the Special Needs Health Fair organized by NYS Senator Andrew Lanza. I was working the table for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), with my friends Patty and Dwight, and Patty's friend Doris. Dwight was to give an In Our Own Voice presentation. In Our Own Voice is a presentation given by people living with a psychiatric diagnosis where they talk about their experiences. It covers five sections: Introduction, Dark Days, Coping, Treatment, and Successes, Hopes and Dreams. Usually the presentation is accompanied by a DVD, but since there was no equipment available for us to show the DVD, and the presentations were limited to 5-10 minutes, we had to keep it short.
Now I had imagined that Dwight was just going to do his thing in front of our table, but this turned out not to be the case. Unbeknownst to me, the presentations had to be scheduled ahead of time, and they were being held in a large cubicle. The presenters spoke into a microphone, and everyone at the fair, which was going on outside the cubicle, could hear them. Someone else had canceled, and Dwight was able to go on in their spot. However, I had to go up to the speaker's podium and introduce NAMI and Dwight to the audience. As you can see, I was not dressed for appearing in front of an audience. Everyone else who had presented before us, and all the staff at the fair, were all dressed in business suits or dresses. Dwight was dressed in a shirt and tie and dress pants. I didn't know I was going to be speaking at the event, though, so I had dressed more casually. Nevertheless, I did my job, which was to introduce NAMI and Dwight to the audience. Patty told me we both did a good job, and that's the main thing.
However, now I know for future reference, always dress at least business casual when I'm going to these events, because I never know when I'll have to talk to an audience. It's better to be prepared!