Attending a conference is never something that you think will be a social challenge for you. Everyone there wants to meet new people, learn about how they can grow as a person and find their next opportunity. Conferences are overwhelming but that doesn’t mean you can’t step up to the plate.
At the 2017 PRSSA National Conference, I was in my senior year of college at American University and I honestly thought I had been through all of the group meetings possible, heard fifteen thousand different techniques for an elevator pitch and pulled all-nighters to finish that portfolio piece my professor needed at 8 AM. But a woman named Bea Arthur put my skills to the challenge. It was one of the keynote speeches where this woman went up on the stage and asked for any “entrepreneurs” to out themselves to the crowd. At first, I scoffed because I don’t always think of myself as one of these people who build themselves and their businesses from the ground up but my entire Chapter gave me the “that’s you” look. I sighed and raised my hand. Little did I know what I was getting myself in to. Bea exclaimed that she was looking for the best pitch on why she should write about someone who stands out from the crowd for Forbes Magazine. That statement got nearly everyone’s attention in the room. She called upon anyone from the audience, old and young alike, and my Chapter again gave me the signature look of “get up there.”
I scampered up to the microphone in front of a crowd of nearly one thousand people or maybe more. My stage fright immediately started setting in. But when all the attention was on me, I grasped the base of the microphone and cleared my throat. What did I tell them? I talked to them about how I make videos online and how I have grown a community of people who follow my everyday life. Why might you ask? Because I have a passion for digital media, helping others tell their own story and representing underserved voices. But not only that, I came out to everyone. I’ve come out to many people before and mostly, or almost all the people I have met in my life know, that I am gay. But it’s a different experience outing yourself to an entire crowd you have never met all staring at you in the same room.
At the end of my pitch, it felt like minutes of silence had gone by before the crowd erupted in a cheer. Adults, peers, elders alike all clapped for what I had just done. I was proud, overjoyed but mainly relieved.
While I never did hear from Bea about being featured in Forbes, I knew I had presented the best pitch from the rest of the candidates and I was happy with my decision to step up to the microphone. The PRSA Diversity Board even approached me later that evening asking me to be apart of their organization lead. It just goes to show that every story matters, even when no one in the room knows who you are.
Have you registered for the 2018 PRSSA National Conference? The registration deadline is September 7th.
Andy Lalwani a role model for a new generation. Serving as a voice for the LGBTQ+ community, his humor and energy show people that they, too, can tackle the everyday problems in life. Combining his spunky personality and filmmaking skills, Andy creates videos about his everyday lifestyle. Andy uses his hosting experience, keen sense of style, and vision for video content to keep his audience fully engaged and continue his passion for creating content online.