As co-workers have asked about my "conference in England," I have found myself more and more able to articulate what happened at the Social Age Safari. At first I was at a loss to describe the hack sessions and why they were so great, but on Thursday I was able to explain to four people in the lunch room what they were all about, and every single person got it, got excited about it, and asked lots of questions (that I was actually able to answer coherently). I even shared my desire to try doing a single session at my organization's annual meeting using this format. Eyebrows went up (I do work with physicians, after all), but everyone thought it was a great idea. Figuring out how to sell it to the people who make the decisions might be harder, but I'm more hopeful about that now that I'm finding this particular voice.
I think the key is that I've shared even when I couldn't find the right words. I don't tend to be inarticulate so this has been a growing experience for me, and I've found that allowing myself to fail when trying to articulate my feelings and experiences is a lot like learning a new song.
When my voice teachers in college would set a new German or Italian or French song for me to learn I would stumble around in the unfamiliar words and musical phrases for days, and sometimes weeks, while trying to find my place in the song. After taking copious notes on a Xerox copy (so I wouldn't make a complete mess of the one in the book), I learned pronunciation and became more familiar with the language and the music. My primary voice teacher would also go through the text with me and talk not just about the words, but what they meant. What the writer was saying in the song. After all that work, I would become comfortable with the nuts and bolts and could start feeling the song and its meaning.
Talking about the Social Age Safari has been a similar experience. I'm learning a new language and a new way of expressing myself. I had the Safari experience itself, and all of Julian's insight and that of the rest of the Sea Salt Learning crew as well, and now I have my "notes." Both in my own blogs, and in the blogs, tweets and LinkedIn posts of my new Crew Mates (a nod to Julian Stodd on the use of this form of the phrase). Not only am I making sense of things myself, but I'm sharing in the sense-making with those who also attended the Safari firsthand and have had similar struggles with articulating what they experienced.
Just like learning a new song, there is a new language and new concepts with which I struggle. There are new cadences and conversations in which I need to find my place and my voice. There is the sense-making and the connection-forming that gives meaning to the experience. And there is the sharing--a bit unpolished at first, but no less important for both the singer and the audience.