Last week I was invited to speak at the National Service User Involvement Conference in Birmingham. The conference was attended by between 500 and 600 people and I was talking about naloxone. You might not think it, but presentations like this are stressful and remembering why is important.
Although originally I was asked to run a small workshop, this was changed a week before to 15 minutes on the main stage and on the day this was reduced further to 10 minutes. But that’s fine – I’m a fast talker.
I’d spent a few days working out how to open the talk, I was using a presentation similar to one I’d given previously but with enough changes to mean that I was delivering something ‘new’. I didn’t write down the exact wording of my opening but it was similar to this:
So I have 10 minutes and if I do this right more of you will think naloxone is something to fight for… and that means more people will live. If I get this wrong though and I don’t manage to convince you, then more people are going to die. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a bald fat guys head, but here goes.
So, I was under pressure, but it’s nothing new. Every time one of us passes on a piece of harm reduction information or advice, every time we speak at a conference, on a training day or even just have 2 minutes with someone in a needle programme we should remember this pressure. What we say and the way we say it matters.
That 2 minutes in the needle programme might just change someone’s life, you might convince someone that change is possible, or give them the knowledge to help a friend who is overdosing.
So take some time to make sure you know what you should say and get good at saying it.