Air-Minded: Presentation Anxiety

speech anxietyI’m giving a briefing on the F-15 Eagle to other museum volunteers and staff next month. Last night I had the first of what will probably be a series of presentation dreams.

In the dream, the venue had been changed to an outdoor amphitheater, it was night, and half the audience consisted of schoolchildren. The school buses the kids came in were mixed in with the audience, parked at various levels of the amphitheater. Speeches beforehand went long and the crowd was restive by the time I was introduced. Five slides into my 37-slide presentation the buses started their engines and the kids started filing onto them, followed by half the remaining audience, who were apparently chaperones. I couldn’t be heard over the noise of the diesel engines and the clamor of the departing crowd.

I told Donna about it this morning and she said, “That was a stupid dream. If I had a dream like that I’d just wake up and say ‘That was stupid!'” I couldn’t agree more.

Speaking of stupid, I commented on an F-4 fighter thread running on my Facebook news feed. Under a photo of an F-4 flying next to an F-22 was the caption “Grandpa and grandson.” Cousins, I thought, not direct descendants, and wrote “I’m thinking more F-86 (father), F-15 (son), F-22 (grandson). As much as I love the F-4, it was never an air superiority fighter.”

I should have known I wasn’t addressing other fighter pilots but rather a group of (mostly) non-flying F-4 fans, who were insulted I’d disparaged their favorite airplane. Their reaction served to warn me of people’s sensitivities. When I talk about the F-15 at the air museum next month, I plan to contrast the air-to-air combat records of air superiority fighters with the poor kill ratios achieved by multi-purpose fighter/bombers like the F-4.

Note to self: tread carefully. I’ll be the only one in the room who ever flew the F-15, surrounded by guys who flew the F-4 and other multi-purpose fighter/bombers during the Vietnam war. If I do it wrong … perhaps by using words like “poor kill ratios” … they’ll get up and leave like the kids in my dream!

© 2013 – 2015, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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