Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Public Speaking, One Of The World's Worst Fears.

Every year, the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, Ohio has a butterfly show where they release many kinds of butterflies in a building for the visitors to look and interact with.  If you're lucky enough, you might even get one to rest on your head, like the one in the hokey picture on the left.  In addition to that, the Japanese and American Student Society has their own set of demos outside of the main building showcasing several aspects of Japanese culture.  The UC Kendo Club was asked to do several demonstrations, which we were happy to oblige our time to show off the martial art we love so much.

In most demos, someone else in the club does all the talking and I just do my job to help make things go smoothly.  But, this time, I was the one doing the talking.  Overall, everything went well.  With the help of those in the club that were able to attend and a receptive crowd, I was able to hold onto my confidence level that tends to go south when having to present stuff in front of large groups of unknown people.

When it comes to presenting Kendo, my goal is to make explanations short and simple and visual examples action packed to make sure that people aren't falling asleep.  Of course, there are many things that I need to improve on which are mainly transitions and maybe a description of the overall history and descriptions that sound less like rambling and more like an authority figure sharing information.  I hope to really work on this as time goes on because I know that this won't be the last demo I will be giving in my Kendo career.

The demo itself consisted of introductions, brief history, description of equipment, basic attacks, kirikaeshi, ai-kakarigeiko and some jigeiko/mock shiai to explain the point system and what makes a hit.  To be honest, I feel that this format is more than sufficient to get the point across but some edits will most likely be made to fit the situation at hand, type of people in the crowd, time allotted and space available.  After that is kept in mind, then the rest should be pretty simple.  The rest is really up to the ability of the speaker to convey the information in a good way.

I've never really thought of myself as the model public speaker.  I tend to stutter and blank out as my confidence level drops.  One thing that seemed to help with that is being put in leadership positions in the clubs I attend, so I had to get used to talking in front of people whether I wanted to or not.  But hey, everything turned out better in the end since I seem to slowly but surely be getting out of that whole stage fright thing with small crowds.  Things might be different for larger crowds, but that is a bridge I will cross when I get to it.

In any case, as my experience level rises, more and more responsibilities will be laid upon me.  Thus, I need to take any opportunity to do what I can to prepare myself for any future situations that come my way.  Some of my goals is to not just be an instructor, but an effective instructor.  To be honest, I didn't think I would have to present myself so early in the game, but it was bound to happen and I come out of it better each time.


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