Is there a limit to how much a person can communicate in a day?
Yes, there is—as I'm reminded every year at this time, attending the Ragan Speechwriters & Executive Communicators Conference in Washington, to which I'm booming off this morning.
For almost 20 straight years, I've had some role in organizing or speaking at this conference.
So I know a lot of the people there. A lot. And a lot of the people know me.
I'll be especially visible this year, as I'm the emcee.
It'll be a hell of a shock to the system, going from my monk-like routine of having a few conversations a week, to having many dozens per day over two days. Frantic remembering of names (and terrified forgetting). Non-verbal cues! Give me one second. Wait—have you met Sharon? Oh, you guys should know each other. Of course I'm familiar with the obscure rhetorical philosopher you're referring to. Can we walk to the Old Ebbitt Grill? How many cabs do we need? Can you split the check 23 ways? And good suggestions to consider! And bad suggestions to pretend to consider! Yes, let's email next week. Did I really say that last year? This is always a busy time …
By Friday afternoon, I will be in a black-gaping daze, brought on by overstimulation. Somebody's lips will be moving and I will be nodding but there will be no sound.
The trouble is, I have a business meeting after the conference, on Friday afternoon. A meeting where it will be useful not to let my jaw hang down like the weary bucket of a back hoe whose operator is out to a beery lunch.
If it appears that I'm not comprehending anything that's happening here, it's because my head is full, you see. Maybe we could email next week …