Profiles of autodidacts

Teaching Myself Public Speaking

At Intrinsic Lifestyle, I share examples of self-directed learners, including myself. In this post, I’ll explain how my interest in documentary filmmaking led me to an unexpected arena of public speaking.

After I completed my film, “Steve Shirley Shark Tagger,” I began entering it into film festivals. Quickly it became apparent that at most festivals, it was standard practice for a Q&A with the filmmaker after the screening.

I figured I’d better learn how to engage with an audience in a discussion. Here are a few resources which I found helpful.

  • Seven Steps to Fearless Speaking, by Lilyan Wilder
  • Phone AP:  “Stop, Breathe & Think” helped me get into a more relaxed state-of-mind before going on stage
  • Deep-breathing beforehand helped the most

My first public speaking opportunity was at the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival in 2015.  In a packed Cowell Theatre with notorious scientists in the audience, Steve Shirley and I got up on stage after my eleven minute film screened. Steve spoke the most, as the audience had technical questions about his shark study. I threw in a joke and felt connection through laughter. It was actually fun!

Participating in a live Google Hangout was a strange way of public speaking. I was in my home at my desktop chatting with other filmmakers and a host on-line. Who knows who was watching it on the internet. I couldn’t see my audience. Still I was slightly nervous.  In preparation, I practiced responses to the questions I’d been given in advance on my iPhone recorder.  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 like the other participants.

Basically, with each experience at public speaking, I have become more familiar with how I’m going feel beforehand and how to deal with those feelings. Remaining at ease in front of an audience is of the essence.

I got through it by taking matters into my own hands. That’s the beauty of self-directed learning.

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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