It’s been two days since I gave a talk at the Hear Us Out 7, global issues conference last Saturday, yet I am still overcome by gladness. My talk this time was different; it signifies a new phase in my development as a motivational speaker. For years, I used to tell my story as it was and let the audience decide for themselves what they saw in my story. Then at HUO6, I took one step further by using different parts of my story to illustrate the lessons that I have learned while battling with Neurofibromatosis Type 2.
Now I am starting to take another step further by teaching people how to self-advocate; not the technical part of putting a campaign together but rather, how to live.
I started by briefly introducing my early life and childhood background, followed by the diagnosis and the challenges I went through during my first two surgeries, followed by my experience of having surgery abroad and how I started to raise funds to have my subsequent surgeries in the U.S. as well. This was to help the audience see the big picture before I went into specific lessons.
I didn’t know how to teach this until I experienced guiding others who came to me seeking for help In raising their own funds between 2007 and 2011. By helping others, I understood what are the things that I need to explicitly teach. Before I tried to help others, what I have been doing was so natural to me that I thought everyone knew it. I thought that people will know what to do when the situation arises. But I soon learned that it wasn’t true.
Others can try to emulate what I do by setting up a blog site and selling things to raise funds. But these were not what made my campaign successful.
Throughout my campaign, I often met older adults supporting me who said that they were supporting because “of you”. I was puzzled. I shook my head rapidly. I didn’t understand and I dared not accept this compliment. I was afraid that such a compliment might go to my head.
But as I gradually guided more people in raising their own funds, I began to see there are things in me that cannot be easily learned. I hope others would be able to raise funds for their own surgeries as well, because it disturbs me to see people who needs critical surgery having no where to turn for proper medical treatments. Yet what makes my fundraising campaign successful is not easy to learn overnight. Hence, I realized the importance of empowering people.
We cannot change the local healthcare standard. But we can empower individuals to rise above the system. Hence began a new phase in my journey as a motivational speaker.
My talk last Saturday was meant to last 40 minutes. But the girl who was tasked to keep time was so engrossed with my talk that she forgot about the time. When she realized it, she came up to me with big almond eyes and said, “I’m sorry, Ms. Yvonne, but we exceeded by 15 minutes”. That was the best feedback I ever received. Previously, they would tell me that we have 10 minutes left so I will end the talk on time.
When the audience came up to me later, I realized that they were not only touched. They were impressed. One audience told me that lessons from my talk were applicable to work and business too.
I hope to give this talk again in the future.
Thanks to all my friends who helped me in my participation at this conference, namely Chia Sheng Yeong, Tan Joo Kim, Cheng Yuin Yin, Shiang Leit, Choong Moon Ting, Justin Yong and Andrew Tan. My participation would have been more difficult without you. Because of you, I was able to concentrate on preparing for and giving this talk.
We managed to raise RM585.00 in total. RM240.00 came from the sale of my goods while RM345.00 were from funds raised by the conference’s organizing committee.
P/S: You may invite me to give a talk at your organization too.