Do you see that person in the background of the picture? That's me...Anita Michelle Tillman. Go on, zoom in...I'll wait.
See? That is me. I was standing at the podium of the Louisiana Municipal Association's 80th Annual Convention a few weeks ago, and this is one of the few moments that captured what I actually do. There I am - head down, editing a script at the 11th hour and 58th minute, and making sure that each speaker knew what to say and when to say it. That's what I do. I help people say the right thing at the right time and I'm happy to do it all from behind the curtain. If you drive a beautiful sports car, no one cares what the engine looks like, as long as the outside looks good and it performs like it's supposed to. Have you ever seen an engine jump out of the car and stand on the ground and pose in front of the car? Never. The engine is a silent yet powerful force, tucked away, out of sight. Just consider me an engine. It's not important for me to be in the spotlight. I am more concerned about helping others shine.
When I was little, I once had a dream that I was on a stage in front of a sea of people, as far as the eye could see. Now, let's fast forward 30-ish years to the last weekend in July 2017, and I'm sitting at a front corner table at the closing banquet of the convention. There was a moment during one of the speeches when I looked behind me and saw a sea of people. Then, I looked in front of me and heard my words being spoken. It was at that moment that I realized that my childhood dream had come true. The words that were being spoken to all those people were words that I wrote. Every person at that podium who read from my script was me, speaking to the sea of people that I saw in my dream! That revelation was humbling and my heart swelled with gratitude for the privilege of being able to give people confidence that when they stand in front of an audience, they know what to say, when to say it, and they can shine.
Strategic communications is just a part of what I do everyday. It's what I do for a fee and for free, because I enjoy it and I don't mind giving back. It's not just about communicating, but using words and media responsibly, and with purpose.
What is your strategy? What is your plan? What is your message? Perhaps you should come and see the wizard. I'll be waiting behind the curtain just for you.