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I didn’t know what to expect from the Women in Travel Summit this past weekend.

It’s the first ever conference of its kind and on top of it, it was all on me to kick off the Summit. ME.

My words had to be polished, inspirational and uplifting.

The exact day of my keynote speech was Saturday, March 15th at 8:30 a.m. That date and time will forever be etched in my memory.

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I woke about 3.5 hours early with jet lag starting to settle into my body, as well as nervousness. I had been away from China for 1.5 days at that point. 

You’re probably wondering, how long does it take to write a keynote? I started writing in January and it took me two weeks to complete a draft. Then afterwards I went in and reworked it, over and over again. 

Then I began to create slides to accompany my words.

When that was done, it came to rehearsing. I rehearsed incessantly. Why so obsessive/compulsive, you might ask?

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Simply put — I was asked to do a job and I wanted to do it well.  

After all that preparation it was about ten minutes before Beth Santos and Ramblen, one of the major sponsors of Women in Travel Summit (WITS) introduced me. What came over me was this sense of floating outside my body, but the electricity coursing through my veins was unmistakable, it was fuel for my task.

Applause thundered throughout a room holding about 180 women, all of them equally engaged in this moment and expectant of what was to come.

I walked up to the podium and stood in front of a microphone. Words began spilling out, words that told of my struggles to meld travel with my life, the adversaries I faced in family members and society, ending with what we were ultimately there for — to be awoken to our potential and be supported in our choices as women.

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As soon as I stopped speaking, I didn’t see those 180 faces, what I heard was applause, loud and deafening but so satisfying. Not because the keynote speech is about me,  but because it was about them. Their willingness to be alive and present, to sign up for a choice that makes them want to wake up with a spring in their step, was satisfaction enough.

That’s what the Women in Travel Summit is about — helping globally minded women be their best selves.

It was a privilege to be one of the first keynote speakers for this historic conference and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. 

Apologies for the video quality, attached below is a taste of my speech. And also, sorry for the quick post. My next post will give some tips on how to write a keynote speech and I’ve had requests to upload my slides and the full speech.

I’ll be writing a few more posts as well to talk about the highlights of the conference and why all women should consider it for next year!

Opening keynote speech of the Women in Travel Summit: