“Does HIV/AIDS Look Like Me?”

This past Thursday I attended the talk “Does HIV/AIDS Look Like Me?”.  It was a talk to raise awareness and let the speaker tell her intimate story about the experience of living with HIV.  Most people know of the virus but not too often does one get to hear of the struggle, pain, emotion, or judgment one harboring the virus can go through.

The speaker went through two horrible diseases by the age of 16, an infection in her esophagus and shingles, before she even knew she had HIV and putting her T cell count so low that now she is permanently considered to have AIDS.  Once she was tested positive the doctors found out she contracted HIV from her mother during birth.  She has devoted  her life to raising awareness around the country about the virus by telling her story and testing people for HIV regularly.

The setting of the talk was very informal.  It was located in the Slayter Auditorium and she sat on the edge of the stage to tell her story.  She had no script or notes of what she wanted to say: she simply told her life story with regards to the disease.  The talk did not flow very well.  She would skip around in her story, leave parts out and then go back to fill them in.   There were numerous amounts of “ums” and stalling words.  She should have put together a simple script of what she would want to say.  I understand that she did not want her talk to be scripted but at times it is useful to write down breif bullet points to organize thought and put them in order.   The speaker had a great message and had the content of a great, touching, emotional story.   Yet, there are many things she could have improved to  make the talk flow better.  I left the auditorium touched with the content of the story but disappointed with the delivery.

Lauren Pipkin

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2 comments so far

  1. dupublicaddress on

    I agree with what you had to say Lauren. I’m sure her nonchalant approach was intended to make the audience feel a sense of comfort with the information and develop a sense of community that would invite them to interact more with her story. Yet, the use of a semi-structured speech would have effectively improved the flow of the speech. Sure, the audience should be able to relate to the story and one way of doing that is to have a conversation with your audience by simply speaking to them colloquially. However, flow also invites the listeners to relax. Some notes would have allowed the audience to pay attention better.
    Giana Gregga

  2. dupublicaddress on

    While I was unable to attend this speech there is definitely something to be said for delivery of a speech that even the greatest content cannot overcome. For example, JFK’s Inaugural Address is regarded as one of the greatest speeches in history…while the content/message was important, the way in which he delivered it is what touches most audiences (the inflection in his voice, his pauses, etc). Should a different speaker have delivered the same speech, it would undoubtedly not have had the same effect.

    It sounds like the HIV/AIDS speaker tried to be on the same level as the audience and create a relaxed atmosphere…which can be difficult with a heavy topic like AIDS. While I like the idea of sitting on the edge of the stage rather than lecturing from a podium, a small notecard with bullets probably would have gone a long way.

    Ali Sehringer


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