Imaginif prompts for daily writers.
If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the below photo (changes daily) as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and your link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Stories below are copyright and are Megan Bayliss' writing around the below daily picture prompt.

Know your symbolism when public speaking

"What can you talk about," guest speaker seeker requested an answer of me.

I thought quickly. Sexual assault, domestic violence or child protection hardly fitted with speaking at Australia's Biggest Morning Tea fund raiser for cancer.

"Motivation and inspirational topics," I pulled from nowhere. "I can motivate your audience to give more than they have already given in the purchase of the morning tea ticket."

It was then that the stinkin' thinkin voice of old top dog set in.

"Idiot. What did you say that for? You couldn't motivate people to donate more money if you were facing a guillotine. Off with yer 'ead, off with yer 'ead!"

Jeeze! I thought old Top Dog died off twenty years ago. Obviously not because the dodgey little rascal had climbed atop my shoulder again and was whispering his words of self doubt into my ear. Worst still, I WAS LISTENING!

Guest speaker at a Cancer Council fund raiser. ME? Jezuz! What was I doing.

"Breath Megan," my acceptable inner voice suggested. I obeyed because often I can be the obeying type. Well, not often, jut sometimes. When I need to be.

"You know a lot about the subject and you are a confident, inspirational and motivational speaker. Imagine that you are teaching about child protection and break the topic down into the smallest bite sized pieces that you can."

Bite size - yum. That would be a well decorated cup cake and I am going to a morning tea. Yum. Morning Tea means yummy things to eat.

Oh thank God. I had the key to calm and sort and think and plan. I merely associated a scary topic with a topic I am wholly comfortable with (plus cake always does it for me).

One of the tips of public speaking is to know your material. One of my tips is to break down the words and turn them on their head. Child protection turned on its head means the protection of children. Turning Australia's Biggest Morning Tea on it's head simply means, Tea in the morning for big Australians.

Umm, no, I don't think that will win me any friends with the menopausal women bracket: you know, the set that puts on weight every TIME THEY BREATH!!!!!!. The set LIKE ME! Okay, stop! What about Tea in the morning in Australia - Billy Tea on the camp fire.

Yeah, I'm liking that more. That fits with telling stories around the camp fire while sipping a pannikin of tea. Yep, I'm a story teller, I can do this. Just because Australia's Biggest Morning Tea is being held in an ultra flash resort at Palm Cove doesn't mean I can't imagine we are all around a camp fire telling stories and ribbing each other!

Once upon a time, a long time ago when cave people used to hunt and gather, Mammoths were our major enemy and had a good go at killing off as many hunters as they could.

Then we got all sophisticated and began hunting each other off in war games: guns, grenades, bombs, gas chambers, get the picture.

Nowadays though, in our hunt for the perfect life we kill each other off by trying to be so much better and more suave than everybody else. We work long hours, eat way too many processed foods and play with chemicals like they are dolls to love and kiss.

Most people we know have a doll somewhere. In fact, one in two people across the globe have played with a doll. Dolls are fun and we keep buying them because they are mini symbols of human life as we want life to be. Sweet, innocent, healthy and beautiful. But, the real search for our perfect life is killing us. The search for our perfect life with never ending hours of stress far too frequently results in domestic germ warfare: heart disease or cancer.

Just getting back to those dolls that symbolise us: I may be wrong but I've never seen a doll mauled by a mammoth or with a limb blown off by a land mine? Come to think of it, I've never seen a doll with heart disease or cancer either. Hey, there's a confronting idea. Let's pretend that one in two dolls have cancer. Chuck those dolls into the fire now. We don't want them because they're not perfect anymore.

But, one in two is our life, this is the reality of how many people get cancer...and we don't treat people with cancer with fire, do we? We don't throw cancer into the too ugly basket. We don't hide cancer under the bed or stuffed way back in the linen closet.

I wonder why we don't have dolls with cancer. Could it be that people with cancer look just like you and I and that it is too scary to think that we may one day have to deal with cancer?

I wonder if I could get every second person to stand up please.

[People stand up and feel really awkward but relieved that they're not in my position as guest speaker. They laugh and shuffle but I'm circling, like a shark, coming in for the kill.]

One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85. Ummmm, that's a lot of people. That's all those people standing up here. That is how many people you may have contact with that will contract cancer.

Now, before you sit down, I want you to think about who's going to treat you and how they're going to do it? There's no money in the budget you know and fund raising is getting more and more difficult. You're going to have to bear the brunt of the treatment cost yourself. Damn, but if only you gave a little bit more money when you were younger and healthier...aka....put one dollar on the table for the Cancer Council and you can sit down.

The people beside you, those ones unaffected by cancer, stand up please. You poor sods. Feel uncomfortable standing up? Good. Are you aware that you are going to have to care for all those other people. The brunt of funding is going to come from your pocket. As you get older so too does your capacity to generate more income to give, so, damn that you didn't give more money to the Cancer Council when you were younger. I suggest it may be a wholly acceptable thing to put $2.00 on the table now. A $2.00 donation to the Cancer Council.

Anyway, you can sit as soon as you've donated and we'll get on with my campfire story.

Cancer is a word, not a sentence. Although, not donating cash today may well result in a sentence of guilt and fear that the people sitting beside you know that you're a scrooge!

Cancer as a word is symbolic of so many things: a crab, an illness, a growth, fund raising (hint, hint, have you all put some coin in front of you - James can you go collect all the coins before the morning teaers take them back again.), change, home, shell.

Oh, by the way, if you want me to shut up, just place some more money on the table in front of you. On behalf on the Cancer Council, I am open to "be quiet" donations :)

The symbolism of Cancer is positive of change: cancer is a word, not a sentence. If we look at the most associated word with the symbol of cancer, crab, there's a few surprises.

According to the ancient wisdom of symbol gypsy:
when a crab finds its way into your teacup, perhaps you are feeling crabby, or find your moods changing. Your crab may indicate that family members and domestic matters are important. It can also suggest that the people around you may be clingy and demanding. Some may even give you a nasty nip. The crab represents the sign of Cancer and has a strong association with the changing moon. As crabs are also shy, you may long to hide in your own shell and let others get on with things. If you are feeling this way, remember you don't actually need anyone at the moment. You have more resources than you realise. You are strong when you need to be, but right now it's time to let go a little and believe in yourself. From, L Barker-Revell, 2007, Time for Tea. The gentle art of reading tea-leaves. p103. Allen & Unwin:Sydney

Now, because time is rolling on I don't want you to be crabby. I want you to remember that you have more resources than you realise and that it's time to let go a little. James is walking around with a donation bucket so do feel free to let go of a few coin resources into the bucket.

I am one of those ancient wisdom gypsies (not really, just ancient and love travelling like a gypsy) and I will now be making myself available to read the symbols in your tea cups. Just remember that a coin must pass my hand if you want me to read your tea leaves....a coin that will go straight to helping the world understand the symbolism of the word cancer - no sentence, just a word that can be resymbolised with  little help from my friends.

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the above photo as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and the link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Story above is copyright and is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt.

4 Response to "Know your symbolism when public speaking"

Julie G said...

Pretty confronting stuff.

Megan Bayliss said...

Yeah, I think you're right. Too confronting and evokes guilt. Was a useful exercise though in sorting my thinking around my speech. I am thinking I will tell a story, a narrative, about symbolism and end with the symbolism of cancer and invite participants to have their tea leaves read.

Sammi said...

I love confronting.
You do confronting very well.
I won't pay you to stop talking
I will pay you to KEEP talking.

As a side note -
We don't call people with cancer "cancerous"
So why do we call people with disabilities "disabled"?

Megan Bayliss said...

Your side point is most pertinent, Sammi....and may be confronting to some people why might never have thought the issue through.

AS for my own confronting: I'm really not happy with the flow or the content of the speech so have set out a new, fun speech. Just as daily fiction writing is great practice for submission preparation, so too was the speech set out. It wasn't until it was out there nd I was looking at it through the eyes of a potential audience that i could see that my humour and attempts at additional fund raising could be interrupted differently to what i had delivered.

So, new speech is funny and uplifting and involves some instantaneous tea leaf reading.

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