In 2019 I was invited to speak at the largest event in the world for event organisers: PCMA Convening Leaders, which was held in Pittsburgh in the USA. Following the response from the audience I decided to organise a global series of homeless hackathons.
I headed across to the US on dia de los tres Reyes, or Three Kings Day, which is pretty much the Spanish Christmas day.
I had a few hours in the morning with my two young kids helping them open and enjoy their presents, before heading off to the airport.
Arriving in Pittsburgh, very late and very tired, I was thankful that my session wasn’t taking place the next morning. I really needed a day to recover.
I also wanted a few hours to walk around Pittsburgh to see the homeless situation, at first hand.
Like many other of the big American cities I have visited it was harrowing.
There was a sizeable homeless population, huddling together for warmth, all trying to shelter and survive the bitterly cold January nights.
I now had even more to say to an American audience.
Homelessness is not the type of topic I normally cover at events for event professionals
Despite having spoken at over fifty events across the globe, I felt particularly nervous (watch for the big breaths that punctuate my presentation) as I prepared to go on stage.
I was talking alongside two very senior and very experienced event professionals, and I wasn’t sure I would be up to the company.
It was also a packed room: there were over 250 event professionals there.
Considering this was a session on homelessness at an event industry event, this was a fantastic turnout. I thought about this, and started to feel more pressure.
Big breaths, big breaths.
I had spoken alongside better known people, in front of bigger audiences before, but the topics had always been much more in my comfort zone.
I could jump up on stage and present a sessions on, probably ten or so, event related topics and talk (coherently) for 30mins, without a seconds preparation.
However, talking about homelessness, well this wasn’t one of those topics.
I had written a script and I had made a few attempts at familiarising myself with it in the run up to the event.
Some of it was sticking, but I didn’t have the confidence to present without reading directly from it.
Read the script, don’t make mistakes, and look up occasionally……… to make sure the audience where still there.
That was my plan, right up until I stood up………
Below is an edited version of my presentation.
And I would love to know what you think!
I hope that you can make it to the end to hear the encouraging words from the CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitor Bureau: get involved he said.
A global series of homeless hackathons
Over the coming months I will hopefully be speaking much more about homelessness and specifically about the five (hopefully more to be added) homeless hackathons we will organise in Barcelona, Dundee, Edinburgh, Montreal (tbc), and London.
I am especially keen to have the event industry involved. So if you want to support our events then please get in touch. You can see the six objectives we have for our hackathons on our Homeless Hackathon home page.
Our events will be live soon, but if you would like to find our more NOW, then please drop me a note.
I really, really hope you decide to get involved.