12.7.13

The Art of Engagement

Here's a way to prepare for a TED talk: go to a PechaKucha!
The July 2013 Richmond event brought on stage ten people affiliated with creativity. I appreciate the effort of talking in front of an audience while twenty of your slides change every twenty seconds. I've done this last year and had fun. Having said that, it's hard work to tell a personal story and be relevant to your audience. Most of this year's presenters had good content. Most of them failed to engage me as an audience. Unfortunately I come with expectations.
Next week I will audition for a TEDx event. I'm always curious to see others present their work, ideas and insights. Preparing for my own talk turned my interest into a quest for reference. Look. Creative people. What is it that makes you want to describe anything about yourself in front of an audience? What does it mean to interest others in your work, your life, your ideas?
Our lives are full of exposure to images, imagery, imagination. When I come to see and hear someone talk about something, anything, can you please deliver a show other than what I can zap through the internet as soon as I type your name? But it's not only the availability of information. It's the engagement. You are the medium. You are the show. The message is there. If you aren't there to deliver it, why are you there?
Well, Diyan Achjadi had lovely images in her slides but her reading from her pages didn't do justice to her insights; Laura Bucci entered the stage in a promising march and talked to the screen instead of to us; OK, Nan Capogna tried to sell someone else's show which she curated: not a good choice; and then two other presenters challanged my expectations until the break: Sammy Chien, who was cute but too nerveous to stand and talk and Yayoi Hirano, whose work is evidently graceful and impressive but her presentation was none of that. The intermission presented a very welcome break for my nerves.
Should I leave? Do I stay? Hmm, if anyone is about to be better, they deserve an audience. Maybe I'm not the right audience. But it's not about me. It's not about you. It's about our connection and what makes it exist.
They all had content. Good content as such. Toni Latour introduced a compelling story and if, again, she could move a bit or leave the papers at home... Her story was focused, interesting and successfully put together though; Greg Masuda had a fascinating story which he managed to read with his eyes fixed to his smartphone screen...; 
At last Vjeko Sager brought a whiff of relief: his kind of off hand delivery of disregard and contempt complemented his edgy works on screen which provided evidence that it doesn't have to be so hard to light a fire. Jeff Chiba Stearns managed to keep the juices running with an amusing description of his family's history. In my momentum of disillusionment I wish he were somewhat more lively on stage; finally we reached Rick Tae who had good images and a nice flow of a story if a bit fluffy to my taste, but hey!
It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about our connection and how we make it work. Did this help me prepare for the TEDx audition? Maybe it is about me after July 18th. You might tell me about it.

1 comment:

Michael Shandrick said...

Thank you for sharing this. Storytelling is a simple thing made more difficult by new media. Remember, a fire in a cave provided the backdrop of the first stories. Today, we have movies. Don't let the medium or the rigorous organization shake your conviction to tell a simple story well.