Did I Say That?

I think I talk more at a conference in one day that I do in a week at home. (Well, my family might dispute that. Just sayin’.)

All that talk means I have plenty of times to say great things, witty things, funny things, and stupid things.

Sometimes someone will tell me, “Three years ago you said, blah BLAH blah blah blah blah blah BLAH.”

Really? I said that? Well, I probably did. That and 4,789 other things that same day.

A love for talking runs in my family and I got that talking gene. With all that talking experience, you’d think I could be spot on every time. But it’s hard to judge at a conference. Once you leave your immediate group of BFFs, you are seeing either people you’ve never met or people you see once a year or less. Sometimes your remark may not garner the response you were expecting.

And you might be witnessing others speak so at least you don’t feel so alone with your case of conference brain.

My thoughts during any given conference:

“Did he just say that?”

“I wouldn’t have said that.”

“Sure wish I hadn’t said that.”

“Sure wish I’d said that.”

“I needed to say that but wish I’d said it better.”

And sometimes:

“Thank you, Lord, for letting me say that just right.”

All this to say: I recommend not forming your entire opinion of someone based on seeing that person at a conference. If you’ve been offended, give that person another chance. If you’re worried you offended someone, try catching that person on social media to show your true spirit.

Our tongues are part of what makes us human. May all of our tongues reflect our pure hearts.

Your turn:

How do you cope with conference jitters?

Do you need alone time at a conference? How do you accomplish that?

Do you have a funny or heartwarming story to share about something someone said at a conference?

26 Responses to Did I Say That?

  1. Avatar
    Jason M. Karampatsos October 9, 2014 at 4:20 am #

    I just returned yesterday from three days at a conference in Williamsburg and I can totally relate to your timely post. I cope by attending conferences with my wife. Jennifer is a born extravert who is very much at home at conferences and her ease and natural charm takes the edge of for me.

    I enjoy getting up early in the morning and walking the halls while they are still quiet. This allows me some meditative time with God as well as helps me ease into the day of workshops, meetings, and all of those quick encounters that will occur in those very same halls once they become crowded later in the day.

  2. Avatar
    Bobbi Junior October 9, 2014 at 5:29 am #

    This was very helpful, Tamela. At a conference a few years ago an editor read a chapter of my book and told me, “You can tell a story, but I can find these a dime a dozen. There’s no hook. Why would I read further?”

    As it was my first Blue Pencil experience, I was crushed. That same book went on to win an award, but I still carry a little resentment and distrust of this person. I need to look at the experience through what you’ve pointed out. Maybe then I can let it go.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray October 9, 2014 at 8:57 am #

      Jason, spending time with God is always an excellent idea. As the saying goes, we don’t have time NOT to pray.

  3. Avatar
    Ane Mulligan October 9, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    We msut be first cousins, because I have the same gene! And oh, can I relate! But my worst faux pas has been written when auto correct decides to sabatoge me that day. ;o)

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray October 9, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      Ane, even worse is when auto correct won’t let you correct it!

    • Avatar
      Jeanne Takenaka October 9, 2014 at 10:04 am #

      Ane, for the record, I HATE auto correct. It changes my words and meanings all the time. Like I need any help conveying an unintentional message! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Avatar
    Chris Storm October 9, 2014 at 5:40 am #

    On a lighter note, I overheard a little something at ACFW that made me smile for days. (Hope I’m not offending anybody with this post.)
    Someone asked, “What do you write?”
    Another fellow answered, “Amish Vampires.”
    I prayed, “Lord, there just might be hope for me.”

  5. Avatar
    Jackie Layton October 9, 2014 at 5:51 am #

    I like the idea of bringing a spouse, Jason. My husband is so much more outgoing than I am. But leaving him home forces me out of my comfort zone, and that’s probably good.

    Tamela, both times I’ve met you at conference you’ve been very encouraging to me. Thanks.

  6. Avatar
    Janet Ann Collins October 9, 2014 at 6:26 am #

    Conference overload can make things like that happen, but that’s not the only situation where they may occur. I guess those of us with big mouths should remember the Golden Rule and make allowances for others because we hope others will make allowances for us.

  7. Avatar
    sally apokedak October 9, 2014 at 6:46 am #

    Well, this isn’t a heartwarming story, but it is kind of funny.


    Or maybe I have a warped sense of humor.

    I was a conference last year and I was so tired from being at back-to-back conferences that I got a little punchy. At four in the morning I thought up something I would say later, and it was so funny. I was in my hotel room cracking myself up. Oh, my goodness. I was like the Erma Bombeck of literary agents. Everyone was going to be able to relate and they would be rolling on the floor laughing. I was just soooo funny.


    By the time I got on stage to tell my little funny thing five hours later, I was too tired to deliver it well. At. All. Totally bombed. Several people told me later that I sounded stressed and bitter.

    It makes me laugh just sitting here remembering it. But then, I guess my sense of humor is a bit warped.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray October 9, 2014 at 9:04 am #

      Sally, it’s funny how things that sound great at 4 A.M. don’t translate at 9 A.M. I’m sure we could fill the comments section with those stories! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Avatar
    Jan Cline October 9, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    As a conference director, I try to be extra careful at my own event not to say something stupid – especially when I’ve got a mic in my hand! I do pretty well there. But when I went to ACFW for the first time, I found myself a bit tongue-tied. A little fish in a big sea is a scenario that creates a tiny bit of insecurity for me. I love this post…it’s so telling of our humanness.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray October 9, 2014 at 9:06 am #

      Jan, authors have told me that ICRS can make you feel the same way. Glad you like the post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Avatar
    Marci Seither October 9, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    Several years ago Patsy Clairmont, someone I totally look up to and admire, was attending the Mount Hermon as a guest. I stood next to her in the dinner line and thought I was going to hyperventilate, finally working up the nerve to asked her a question.

    After dinner Dave Talbott picked me to interview after he found out I can sing like Ethel Mermanโ€ฆ I was so nervous!

    Later that evening Patsy told me I did a good job and had good timing. That is when I should have smiled and nodded, but, instead I told her my right bun cheek started to get a cramp due to nerves.

    I could not believe that came out of my mouth!

    For a split second I contemplated changing my name and seeking a career in a dark cubicle away from the public, but her kind eyes and genuine smile assured me that I was in good company. She replied, “It happens. A little bun quiver isn’t always a bad thing.”

    Which made me love Pasty Clairmont even more..even if I do sound like a dweeb sometimes.

  10. Avatar
    Tamela Hancock Murray October 9, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Marci, what a great story! I’m sure Patsy enjoyed your honesty, too.

  11. Avatar
    Jenelle. M October 9, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Marci, thank you for the giggle this morning! So sorry that happens to you when you get nervous. At least you can joke about it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    ‘Conference brain.’ I just might steal that phrase. It’s a great explanation if I ever get word vomit at a conference.

    I cope with jitters by being as prepared as possible. Having my homework done. Of course there will be unexpected moments, but going into the conference feeling somewhat confident is key for me.

    Even though I am a born extrovert, having some down time from peps is key. All I need is 20 minutes with my ipod in a cozy spot and I’m re-energized.

    I try to Keep “there is a time to speak and a time to stay silent” in the forefront of my mind and be attentive to discernment. Sometimes it helps me keep a filter and sometimes it doesn’t. Oh, Lord how I thank you for grace and forgiveness, halleluiah.

  12. Avatar
    Jeanne Takenaka October 9, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Loved this post, Tamela. Yes, I’ve said many MANY things I’ve regretted almost immediately. My poor husband learned early in our marriage to encourage friendships with other women. His introverted self just can’t manage all my words and desires for interactions some days. ๐Ÿ™‚ But he’s also the poster boy for thinking before you speak. He’s so good at choosing the right, the gracious ways to express his thoughts. I’m learning from him.

    I do appreciate quiet times at conferences. Especially before appointments. I’m usually an extrovert, but the quiet helps me refocus when I’m overwhelmed with noise.

    I’m trying to think of a good or funny conference word story, but none are coming to mind, so I’ll keep thinking.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one with the talking gene!

  13. Avatar
    Abigail Wilson October 9, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Great article!

    ACFW was my first conference, and whew–filled with several awkward moments. But I must say, I wish I could take a particular breakfast back. In between my constant chattering with a table filled with people I had just met, my fork slipped and I threw hashbrowns all over another author. I have been reliving that stellar moment over and over again. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank goodness for understanding peers!

  14. Avatar
    Candy Arrington October 9, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Good post!

    Teaching or trying to pitch an idea at a conference located at a high altitude vendue (if you live closer to sea level) adds to the did-i-say-that phenomenon. You just can’t seem to control what rolls out of your mouth, or you can’t string a sentence together to save your life!

    I remember sitting across the table from an editor in a noisy appointment room and finally saying, “I’m sorry. I can’t even turn my thoughts into a sentence at this altitude.” He laughed, handed me his card, and told me to email him.

  15. Avatar
    Judith Robl October 9, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    You were very gracious when I spoke to you at ACFW this year. It was my first ACFW conference.

    I love this post. I have a great deal of run-off-at-the-mouth syndrome. It requires a lot of self-control for me to remind myself to put brain in gear before engaging mouth. I am getting better, but I really need for people to exercise a lot of grace with me from time to time.

    Love the responses here. Just goes to show we are all fallible and human.

  16. Avatar
    Leslie Payne October 9, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I’m recovering from a rough physical therapy appointment earlier today, and laughing through these stories is exactly what I need.

    Though I have no specific quotes to share, at ACFW this year I had the honor of meeting with Steve Laube, however it was the second to last appointment of the very busy conference. The poor man was so tired and punchy, and I was in the same state. Professionally, I don’t think either of us accomplished much, but the memory sure makes me laugh!

    This post was so refreshing, I just might read it all again.

  17. Avatar
    Sharyn Kopf October 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    Often — especially at longer conferences — there comes a day when I need to get away from the intensity of it all. So, I’ll choose to skip the last workshop of that afternoon, go back to my room and just read or check email until it’s time to go to dinner.

    Oh, who am I kidding? I take a nap. ๐Ÿ™‚

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