Jon Wong

The Speech

It's a little ironic that I wrote a speech about embracing the opportunities that failure brings us, and then proceeded to not get selected to present that speech. Now I have to take a dose of my own medicine:

... the entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. - Peter Drucker

To start off with, it probably makes sense to get some context. Let's rewind a couple of days.

I had re-written my speech just in time for the audition spot the next day, when I was scouring my email and found the feedback the review board had given from my first speech. Looking at the email I saw that they had mentioned the feedback they gave, but I think I had been too fixated with the fact that I had even made it into the second round, and missed the attached document.

With less than a day to work, I started from scratch, taking into account all their criticism. I wrote this one a little differently, made it more colloquial, and conformed it more to how I spoke on a regular basis as opposed to how I imagine I speak when I write (I did only have a small amount of time to memorize it). I wrote quickly and concisely, and produced a speech that got to the point while still being structured in an entertaining fashion.

I spent the entire next day rehearsing the speech, over and over, in the shower, on the bus, in front of my friends and teammates. I got good criticism, and good praise as well. Confidence was high, and I had the entire structure mapped in my head.

I walked into the audition room in front of a panel of my fellow undergraduates. I knew one of them from real life, but the rest were strangers. They recognized me from the first round, and welcomed me to start. My computer had run out of batteries, so I used theirs. The presenter remote I had didn't work with their computer, so I just used the keyboard.

I blew through the introduction, started in on the description of the project I had spent the last year and a half working on, when I forgot to say the name. But that was the cue for the next slide!

Then the computer screen goes to sleep (why didn't I charge my own). I wake 'er up, say the name, then proceed to tell the hook to the next section of the speech.

But wait, I skipped two sections. Let's back up, and make sure to hit the bases.

Wait, I forgot to change the slide when I woke the computer up. Now we're all confused. I finished up the speech, and despite the optimistic nods of the presenters, I had a feeling that it didn't go very well.

I see now that I should have been better prepared. I should have brought my own stuff to make sure it worked as I expected. I shouldn't have been so headstrong and found the feedback earlier, and written the speech earlier.

But here I've found a chance to make a response, a chance to exploit this opportunity to make sure I get the next spot. I'll need to not only be prepared to succeed, but also be ready to succeed. And I'm certainly ready to succeed.