Ok, the world was melting.
That’s the first bit of information you may find useful in setting the stage on this one particular Saturday that I’ve been tasked to recap: 29th June, 2019. It was hot outside. What that means is when people walked into Dylan Beattie’s Speakers’ Workshop (arranged by the wonderful DDDEM Team) on the day, the air-conditioned indoors was the unanimous cause of everyone’s glee before the workshop had even begun.
Of course, this collective glee only surged once all the attendees were sat around their tables in smaller groups, onlooking Dylan work his most excellent magic of sharing Speaking advice and wisdom through out the rest of the day. Personally, having witnessed Dylan play the guitar and sing his supremely hilarious Tech-themed songs at Tech Nottingham before, I was partly aware of the level of brilliance he possessed to own rooms or audiences with.
But this was different, this was a different vantage point.
Here, we were looking at a genius break it down to 20(?) people in a room, with a possible route to finding our own brilliances to take on rooms and audiences, at any level. And when you’re given an opportunity like that, you make sure you don’t miss it.
Which is why I arrived early. Suuuuuper early. I’m talking arrived-before-the-organizers early. One thing I’ve learned from this is: organizers + overflowing carrier bags (full of ALL THE THINGS) go hand-in-hand (on that note: someone get Mary Poppins on the line, we need an address on that magic bag..).
I instantly connected when Dylan shared that ‘an uninterrupted connection’ with your audience is what keeps a talk engaging. I also found it interesting how, even though he was coaching us on various Talks do’s and don’ts, Dylan was at the same masterfully delivering this talk on talks (M E T A) perfectly adhering to those same lessons he was teaching us, even when in his own shoes.
Using slides that were easy to read, animations that made sense, a photo that conveyed a message/feeling vs slides with text, balancing audience interaction, including short video(s) and of course, using his witty sense of humour and so on. You could see that this was a workshop that had taken form from Dylan’s own experiences and here he was: sharing, teaching, learning all at once, in what can only be described as an exceptional feat.
Further so, it was the idea that ‘your stage is a landscape’ that became my favourite. This is such a gem of an answer and a simple thought to remember, especially when you might be thinking ‘how can I possibly make this interesting?’. I’ve already utilized and begun to understand the potential and difference of when you ‘paint’ a picture in front of people while speaking to them, instead of being stood in the corner, awkwardly inhibiting your feet from moving.
However, now, I think it’s time for a confession: I’m one of those people.
One of them, who, when they carry (or are given) notebooks and pens they’ll write their names neatly on perhaps the top left corner on the first page. They’ll jot four quick bullet points. And then? Then, they’ll sit with pens in hand, notebooks open and mouths agape..telling their brains ‘I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember all of it’. Trust me when I tell you, I was not at fault here. There were, genuinely, so many little moments where my mind was blown during Dylan’s workshop. I wish I had written all of it down, to better be equipped to share all of it.
But you’ll have to believe this wonderstruck human’s inadequate brain in expressing just how timely and quintessential this imparting of expertness really was, and for that I thank Dylan (and the organizers, Jessica and Moreton for making this happen)
Other must-mentions during the day:
1. Coffee from 200 Degrees
Imagine an adventure party voluntarily formed of the bravest souls (coughincluding yours trulycough) , valiantly venturing outside in the melting sun for the sole motivation for such a perilous journey: coffee. great coffee.
2. Talks given by the attendees
Those in the audience who have had their talks selected for DDDEM rose to the occasion and presented quickly prep-ed 3 mins talks on a topic of their liking to the whole room. The rest of us then anonymously wrote down 1 thing we liked and 1 thing that could’ve been better on two post-its, for each of the speaker’s talk. Tell you what though, I really struggled finding the thing to improve for so many of them, they did so well!
3. Chatting to old and newly-made friends
Truly, this is the kind of merry time that often gets overlooked. During the day, a lot of us were sat a table just chilling. Catching up with the old friends, introducing ourselves to new ones. Simple, happy moments that aren’t explicitly in the agenda but make your day, anyway.
4. Nailing a potential band album cover art with the lovely WiT ladies
Eh, name a more iconic quintet(?)… I’LL WAIT! One to forever look back to.
5. Discovering Matt Brunt has a pet gecko, called Mr Hubble
Ok, but this gecko has a more hip name than I do. 1 question: HOW? Also,clears throat as a teeny bit of a storyteller myself, I loved just how well-written Matt’s gecko story was! I do hope he’ll share it in written text… eventually. 11/10. (To Matt: do ittt!)
6. Nearish to 4PM: Sitting on the workbench with our laptops open, in faux-productivity
This is when you admire stickers on all the laptops. And oh, there is a lot of stickers to admire!
7. and lastly, a cheerful conclusion and the many goodbyes.
As I walked out, even the thick air outside could not get my spirits down.
I had, after all, spent my Saturday, most splendidly.