Are You Ready to Disrupt?

Kelly DisruptHRDen.jpg

Last week was a crazy one. Planes, trains and automobiles (and subways and ferries) took me, my husband and kids all over NYC, and up the coast to Cape Cod. We had a beautiful time. The feeling of fulfillment and peace I get when we are all together will have to keep me until we reconnect. I love having grown kids, but the problem is that they stray. They go to make their way in the world, and they leave me behind. I love and celebrate their sense of adventure and relish that they have opportunities to make their own marks. But I can’t say that I am happy they are away from me. That is the bittersweet part. I need to turn my focus to how I will live this new chapter in my life, and find ways to challenge myself and keep growing.

So as much fun as we were having, I left Cape Cod early to make my way back to Denver to rise to a challenge of my own. I was humbled and excited and quaking in my boots when I was chosen by the amazing DisruptHR Denver team to speak at the August 24th event. What an exhilarating experience! It’s terrifying, fun, exciting and creatively fulfilling to design and deliver a message this way. If you’re not familiar with DisruptHR, the format is a five-minute talk, with 20 slides that automatically advance and are shown for 15 seconds each. Not only do speakers need to think through their content and how it plays in this sort of format, but they also must carefully consider each word that makes it into their presentations. It takes some careful planning, and/or serious guts to go for it!

There were two important characteristics of the presentations at DisruptHR Denver last week. The first was careful preparation. Speakers timed presentations so that they built excitement over the course of their delivery, arriving at a crescendo near the end. This is so tough to do-I admire the way speakers structured their content as well as the clear preparation involved in delivering the presentation perfectly so that it would coincide with the relentlessly advancing slides. I loved their sense of humor and willingness to share their viewpoints and expertise.

The second characteristic was palpable passion. Content was chosen for personal resonance and impact, and was delivered with vulnerability and 100% conviction. Speakers dared the audience to come on board with them-and it was clear that those listening were engaged and excited about the messages they were hearing. The organizers prepare attendees to see and hear innovative ideas, and to be open to supporting the speakers getting outside their comfort zones. This audience was among the friendliest and most energetic I’ve seen.

How would I describe my speaker experience? I loved hanging out with the other speakers and learning about their experiences preparing for the event. I met some great people but had entirely forgotten to bring business cards, because I was so hyper focused on my own preparation. A friend asked me if I wanted a shot but I wisely stuck with water. I just nervously paced around through most of the event while I rooted for other speakers as they presented. When it was my time to climb the steps to the stage, my heart was pounding out of my chest. But then I started talking…and it was like a conversation. I looked out at everyone sitting there in the audience, and I just chatted with them. And they smiled and laughed and I had fun. I hope they did too. My delivery wasn’t perfect, by any means. But it was a real moment in time. I hope that putting myself on the line for that five minutes meant something-I know I will never forget it.  

I have many colleagues (you know who you are) who’d make amazing DisruptHR speakers. I encourage people to submit, but I often get the response that they would be too terrified to try it. It is scary. It’s challenging. It’s out of your control…and it’s an amazing experience. I’m so happy I went for it-I’m proud that I climbed to the stage and gave it a shot, and now I’m a Disruptor for life!

Won’t you take the challenge? I would love to see you DisruptHR. Let me know where you will be speaking, and Wendy Dailey and I will bring the DisruptHR Road Trip to your town. Next stop: Minneapolis! See you there.