As a Health & Leadership Speaker, it’s common for me to walk away from the stage/front of the room or whoever wondering, “Did what I just say make an impact?”
I’m reading the people in the room. Changing the flow or direction as I see that may be more beneficial.
Some audiences are easier to read than others.
One of the toughest crowds I’ve come to repeatedly…tweenagers and teenagers! (I may have made up the tweenager name.)
They’re one of the toughest, yet the ones I come away feeling really energized by.
It’s so paradoxical!
They’re one of the toughest because they may have this straight-looking, no emotion face or they’ll be slouching in the chair looking another direction or looking at their phone.
Waaaait a second…two things are sticking out here:
- I did that as a teen and still do!
- Adults in other audiences do that, too!
But, here’s the thing…
Although these non-verbal cues or body language positioning may be interpreted one way that they’re not paying attention, listening or understanding, the person actually may be paying attention and you’re making an impact.
My focus on the impact of when I’m speaking is if thought processes were shifted. Shifted enough to decide to make an Inspired Action step.
Granted, some of these I see immediately whether it’s notes being taken when asking for tips or a message later telling me what they did or asking for clarification to implement something I talked about.
You see, up until now, my tween and teen-related events have been 100% girls in the audience. This time, there were three (3) boys.
For a talk titled: “Improving Teen Confidence and Awareness Through Menstrual Health”
I wasn’t shaken by it or anything. Was actually happy they were there.
Right at the beginning, I addressed them being there and stressed the importance and value of them being there.
Now, fast forward through the actual talk to the after-the-talk questions when you get approached by people who want to ask questions, thank you’s, make comments, take pictures, etc.
It’s what I’ve come to expect.
And now I’ve learned I need to go in expecting the unexpected.
What surprised me was a young man came to me and said he was going to meet me at my table because he wanted to talk to me.
I said sure, let’s do it!
I finally get back to my table filled with my preferred pads as decor, books, Menstrual Health Mini Self-Assessment.
This young man (I’ll call him Jared for sake of privacy and confidentiality) comes over and in a very low voice says he wanted to get some info from me. I mean, oh so very low that I had to get uber close to him just to make out what he was saying.
I asked him what info was he looking for.
He proceeds to tell me that he has two sisters and he wants to make sure they have what they need to have healthier Cycles.
I learn he’s big bro.
Big bro who doesn’t know anything about their Cycles. They don’t talk to him about it at all. Yet, at the same time he wants to do what he can to make sure they’re healthy, informed and safe.
I wanted to jump across the table and hug him. Heck, I’m tearing up writing this.
Why did this get to me so hard?
I realize I speak to female audiences 99% of the time. Whenever there has been a male in the audience (and I will usually tweak the talk a little bit based on the topic), I’ve not actually gotten any feedback from them.
Here’s this teenager who put himself out there acknowledging his role in women’s health.
Men who were once boys who weren’t taught about the Menstrual Cycle.
Wait! I take that back. They were taught.
They were taught to NOT worry about it. “You don’t bleed, so it has nothing to do with you.”
What they were taught was:
They have no place in Menstrual Health
This translates to uninformed and misinformed future fathers, uncles, cousins, brothers, grandfathers of those who DO menstruate.
This translates to uninformed and misinformed VOTERS of Reproductive Health issues. People get all up in arms and upset about the passage of bills and laws that don’t support women’s health, but do they understand the way the male counterpart votes has a lot to do with their upbringing. They were taught to not care about it or it doesn’t really affect them.
They could’ve been taught compassion, kindness and empathy for those who do menstruate.
Even been taught that it is THROUGH the Menstrual Cycle, he was even born!
So they are absolutely affected by the Menstrual Cycle and it’s time they’re taught appropriately.
Going back to my original thoughts of if what I said made an impact, I got a resounding, “Hell yes!” when I got done speaking with Jared.
I did do what I said for the talk (Remember, it was “Improving Teen Awareness and Confidence Through Menstrual Health”)…I saw:
- An open forum begin with questions of heightened awareness and critical thinking about their own personal experiences
- A consideration and respect for others in their lives to want to better themselves to be a better role for them
- Confidence to talk about something that can be really difficult to talk about
- Raised eyebrows and furiously written notes when learning what actually needs to be tracked during the cycle and experiences of what is actually a healthy Cycle
And, the special convo with Jared was the icing on the cake. Why? Because I see someone new who is taking responsibility and is now more consciously aware of supporting his sisters, cousins, friends, potential partners, those in his community that his vote affects and more.
This seed planted with Jared is growing roots of his very own tree that’s sure to be shade, nourishment and comfort to many who menstruate.
Thank you, Jared.
P.S. What do you wish the boys or men know about the Menstrual Cycle? Comment below!