My SoOnCon ReCap

Being given the chance to speak at SoOnCon is simply too good of an opportunity to pass up. Having that event take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox makes the experience that much better.

The work that went in to getting ready for this talk will be the subject of another entry. This post is about the event itself.

I arrived an hour later than I had wanted to. I missed the first few talks. Alex Leitch had started by the time I entered the building, and I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ who barges in half way through and disrupts everyone. Instead, I sat down in the hallway and put together my slide show.

I went for an extremely simple black-background-with-white-text aesthetic, because most PowerPoint presentations suck, and I wanted to keep it as simple as I could. Plus, I was using Libre Office, so any fancy stuff I did was unlikely to turn out right after being converted to .ppt format. The slides were more of a reminder for Brad and I than fancy visuals for the audience. Our talk was a series of short stories, and each slide was a key phrase that reminded us of that story.

I sat through several lightning talks as I got my own presentation in order. I felt bad for working during someone else’s talk, but I knew I’d feel worse if my own talk failed due to lack of preparation. Just moments after finishing the slide show, a fortunate turn of events landed my way: the talk going on in Cinema 5, the room where Brad and I would be presenting, ended 10 minutes early. That meant we had time to copy files over to the presentation computer and do a tech demo, set the levels, get the sound working, and make sure there would be no hiccups along the way. I took care of all that stuff without any problems.

Finally, I could relax and just enjoy the presentations. I bounced from room to room, catching whatever seemed interesting. I hadn’t really slept the night before, so my exhaustion made it difficult to get as much out of the talks as I should have, but I still enjoyed much of what I saw.

Then, it was time for my talk.

I had picked up a new field recorder for this talk so I could have a decent quality record of it to study for future talks. (If I crash and burn, I want a record of it!) Unfortunately, I had not been able to find block of free time to read the manual or play around with it, so I had no idea how to use the damn thing. I spent most of Eric Boyd’s talk playing around with the recorder, hoping his volume level would match ours. Eric Ended his talk. I figured out how to use my shiny new H4n handy recorder just in time. I set it down on an empty chair in the front row and took my place beside the podium.

I was feeling really good about this talk. Normally when I have to do some public speaking, the hour leading up to my presentation is not a pleasant one. I am freaking out inside; sweaty hands, dry mouth, upset stomach, shaky knees, all the usual symptoms of stage-fright. Then I walk up on stage, and after a few seconds, the fear goes away and I just go for it. This time around, my talk was getting closer and closer, and I was calm, cool, and collected. I was not scared at all.

Then the talk began. You know that pre-show terror feeling I just finished writing about? It wasn’t gone, it just arrived a little later than usual. The fear took my by surprize, and I kinda fumbled the intro. Took me a while to really get a good flow going and get into the talk.

Our friend Kevin was operating the camera for us. (Yes, we were recording video as well as audio.) I didn’t get a chance to warn him about the 20 minute record-limit that most DSLRs are stuck with. “Is he going to get the second half on tape?” kept looping through my mind. Rather than focusing on the talk, I was distracted by technical issues like this one. I later found out that Brad went over everything with Kev before the shoot, so these fears were unfounded. He got everything. It looks good.

Eventually, I warmed up and got into a good flow. Our speaking strategy worked very well. We knew we couldn’t memorize a half hour long speech, but we can tell a string of stories we have experienced first-hand and therefore know very well. Brad and I have very different presentation styles. He is far more animated, while I am a little more reserved. He makes use of advanced language, while I try to be simple and to-the-point. I think the contrast between us works well. (But I wont know for sure till I watch the footage.)

After introducing the DRM BOX, the next project of Brad’s and mine, Brad loaded up the rough version of the instructional/promotional video I had spent the previous night putting together. It believe it was received very well.

The talk went for about 30 minutes. We didn’t run short, and we didn’t run long. We didn’t get yelled at for throwing off the schedule. These are all good things. The audience laughed when they were supposed to, didn’t laugh when they weren’t supposed to, and we had some interesting conversations with people afterwards. Those are all signs pointing towards a job well done.

I have the footage. I have the audio. In a few weeks, all you non-SoOnCon attenders will be able to see our talk.

Stay tuned.

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Kyle Clements

Kyle Clements is a Toronto-based artist and nerd. During his thesis at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Kyle began working on his Urban Landscapes series, a body of work that aims to capture the energy and excitement of life in the fast-paced urban environment. After graduating from OCAD in 2006, Kyle spent a year living in Asia to gather source material and experience in a different kind or urban environment. His work is vibrant and colourful. Whether painting the harsh Northern landscape, or capturing the overwhelming buzz of life in the city, his acrylic paintings hover between representation and abstraction.