Autodidacts Creating Culture

Figuring out Public Speaking

At Intrinsic Lifestyle, I share examples of self-directed learners, including but not limited to myself.  In this post, I’ll explain how my interest in documentary filmmaking led me to an unexpected arena, public speaking.

After I completed my film, “Steve Shirley Shark Tagger,” I started the process of self-distributing it by entering it into film festivals.  I discovered that at most festivals it was standard practice for a Q&A with the filmmaker after their screening.

I figured if I was going to attend a festival, I better plan on taking part in the discussion with the audience; and that meant I’d better learn a little more about public speaking if I wanted it to go well.

My first public speaking ‘trainer’ was the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival.  There, I participated in a Q&A with students, as part of the school programming; as well as for the last night screening, for mostly adults.

Rather than bow out of doing it (it was optional), I began to try to develop my skill at public speaking.  Here are a few resources which helped me to do that:

  • I read “Seven Steps to Fearless Speaking,” by Lilyan Wilder and practiced her tips.
  • I kept a worry stone in my hand to rub on to release nervous energy.
  • I used an AP on my phone called:  “Stop, Breathe & Think” to get into a more relaxed state-of-mind.  That helped a lot.

Another activity for filmmakers, whose films were selected for the SFIOFF, required me to be articulate in front of strangers.  It was a Live Google Hangout.  To promote interest in the festival, we participated in an internet discussion, facilitated by Andrew Kornblatt of Online Ocean Symposium.

Although I was at home in my office, I knew that the program was being watched by whomever on the internet.  I couldn’t see my audience and that was weird, and well, made me nervous.  In preparation, I used an audio recorder on my iPhone and practiced my responses to the questions I’d been given in advance.  I was asked to keep my answers short and sweet and I did that too well.  In retrospect, I wish I would have elaborated more.

Basically, with each experience at public speaking, I became more confident and comfortable.  By the sixth time at the SFIOFF, I was more relaxed than I’ve ever been in front of a group and I was actually enjoying giving responses.  When I got a laugh from the audience, I knew I was on track because it proved we engaged.

In essence, I took it upon myself to learn more about it. I got through it.  Now I’m less intimidated to do it again at the next festival.  That’s the beauty of self-directed learning–taking matters into your own hands.

I’ve embedded the Online Ocean Symposium below.  Because it was a live streaming, the quality of the footage isn’t great.

Streamed live on Feb 10, 2015  “The San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival (SFIOFF) is quickly approaching! The amazing annual four-day festival, held February 27-March 1, returns to the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center. This year we will be hosting a hangout with filmmakers to discuss the topic of conservation through film. Joining us will be storytellers, scientists and conservationists from around the world to show what inspires them to create films that inspire others.”

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