Tuesday, 22 November 2011

#cpd23 Thing 15: attending, presenting at, at organising events

I may as well just come out at admit it: I love speaking to an audience. I know that for many people it's daunting: pitfalls and potential embarrassments abound. But for me, even though I've my fair share of hang-ups and shynesses, it always seems much more of an opportunity than a threat.

'Folklore 009 - open air' by Martin Fisch on Flickr
Granted, I've never played to a crowd like this.
Who knows why that is.  Maybe it's because, having been musical since childhood I'm just well-used to being on stage.  But maybe not - I can still get tremblingly nervous before a concert.  Maybe it's more subtle than that - if you make a mistake on the cello it sounds *horrible*, but it you misspeak you can easily say "sorry, that's not what I meant to say..." and continue.

Or maybe, just maybe, I'm an irredeemable show-off.

I wrote the main post for this Thing, and a lot of my thoughts are already condensed into that post.  Most of my good advice is over there, but one thing I haven't said before is that a sure-fire way to feel better about presenting is to know your subject matter well.  If you're talking about something you've done, then it's hard to be tripped up: you were there, you know what happened, you know what the reasoning was.  Maybe that's why I prefer professional presenting to academic presenting...

I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak at quite a few events in the last year.  Some of those were conferences and events I'd applied to speak at, and a couple have been invitations from organisers.  Being involved in a number of different projects and groups means I've had quite a few things to say!

As for attending conferences, I've enjoyed that a whole lot more since I've started to get to know more people via Twitter and other social media.  I wrote about that recently here.

Lastly - organising. Organising events is hard work.  That's really all I have to say right now ;)


  1. Interesting: hadn't thought before about the link between musical performance and speaking to a professional audience.
    I used to play the clarinet; I think the difference is that, in a musical performance, one is so absorbed in communicating through the music, and the emotional and technical detail of one's reading of the piece, that the audience don't intrude; the performer engages with them through the music, and nothing else. It would be only at the end of a piece that I'd remember that they were there, whereas when speaking they are a constant presence.

  2. Tom, that's a good point. Sadly, I don't seem to be much cop at ignoring the audience when playing, certainly not orchestrally. Especially not in last night's concert: woman looking at her watch in the front row, I saw you!