Tomorrow’s April 1, my least favorite day of the year (No foolin’. Seriously, no foolin’, I am NOT a good sport!). It also dawns on me that tomorrow’s date means that my first ever non-academic speaking engagement is a mere two weeks away.
That’s “Ill-Gotten Brains: The Grisly History of Sourcing Bodies for Anatomical Learning” at Machine Project in Echo Park, Los Angeles, Friday April 15 at 8pm. [end of plug]
Thanks to some kind souls spreading the word one way or another, I’ve started getting tweeted at by a few strangers, sweetly telling me how excited they are about my talk. One new follower was flattering enough to say, “I think it’s amazing that you’re working w/a group like that. As a fellow librarian, it’s inspiring & completely motivating.” That comment really blew my mind and made my day.
So of course, I’m trying my level best not to completely hyperventilate over all of this.
Putting this talk together has been a real challenge so far. I’ve got all the ideas there, but I’m experimenting with some new, less academic, generally better presentation techniques. The talk is supposed to last about 40 minutes, which is definitely the longest I will have ever spoken in public. Also, I’m going to attempt to do it without notes. I’m attempting a modified Lessig method with mostly pictures that I hope will jog my memory as I fumble through.
But my main concern is tone. This is the general public, and I don’t want to bore them stiff (though I hope the beer Peigi is brewing might help ease them along a bit. Yes, I am hoping my audience is liquored up.). Plus, a lot of this material is funny in a perverse way, and it lends itself to that treatment. If you tell one or two little jokes in an academic talk, you’re a hero, because sometimes they are so deadly dull. But for the public…I am living in fear of my attempts at being funny falling flat, especially in front of an audience that includes friends who are actual stand-up comedians.
No pressure, right?
But I guess there are a few ways to deal with stress over expectations to perform. I could just let it cripple me and keep putting off the work. Or I could do what I did today, which is turn on Sonic Youth’s Dirty and ride that nervous tension like a wave! Let it motivate me (hopefully this weekend but not tonight)! Yeah! Especially this little ditty…
So come wish beside me, friends, don’t you know you know what’s right.