Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Public Speaking: Expect the Unexpected!

Today's lesson?  Be prepared!  Unless you're really really good at winging it. :0)

This morning I was supposed to be talking to a class of second graders about cartooning.  I knew I was going, but have been so busy that I hadn't given it any thought at all... until this morning.  Mistake number one.

I've done quite a bit of public speaking, and I've spoken to classes and groups about cartooning, so it's not brand new to me.  I have certain things I bring along, handouts, activities, and I know there'll always be a place to draw on, so I figure if worse comes to worse, I'll wing it.  It's just a small room of kids, right?

So, I sit down with an hour left before I have to leave, and go searching my computer for the handouts to print.  I found one, but not the one I wanted.  So, I started printing the activity page while creating a coloring page.  And that's when my computer started dying.  It's moments like these when I understand why people hate PC's so much... and Windows Vista is one of the worse.

Now I have 5 minutes until I'm late, and I've finally managed to print out the activity, the coloring page, and pack up selections of my books and comics and freelance work, grab some give-aways, grab the camera, and get to the school as fast as legally possible.  I find my way to the classroom and there is a swarm of activity!  Weren't they expecting me?

Oh yes, they were.  Except that  the teacher had told another teacher who told another teacher... and this morning they all decided their classes should see what I have to say.  FOUR classes of second graders!  A huge group of kids who all have something important to say and share and questions to ask and.... oh boy.

I'll be honest:  I love kids.  But they also terrify me.  No, not terrifying like zombies, but kids tend to be... honest. Brutally honest.  And the questions they ask?  I used to coach girl's soccer, and let me tell you how tough that was, to get a word in, for one.  "Didn't you wear that shirt yesterday?"  "How old are those shoes?"  "How's my hair?"

So, I entered this noisy classroom as if it was a shark tank, and I had no cage to hide in.  I settled in, got a drawing board, and hid my give-aways because there were just too many kids, and I don't ever want to disappoint a single child.  I looked into the audience, and just started talking.  I figured that was better than standing there looking stunned, and it was.

It turns out that that group of sharks was actually a room full of cuddly bunny rabbits!  The kids were so sweet, so much fun, and as always, had so many very intelligent questions!  There is never enough time to talk with kids about cartooning, let me tell you!

I showed them my books, talked about working, answered questions, and did a few drawings in between, to keep the flow going, and it was a wonderful experience.  We ended by me doing a drawing of my Alien, and the kids telling me what to add to it.  Again, it was so much fun!

The kids had to go to lunch, but so many held back to ask questions, and I even got a few hugs!  That was a surprise... I usually just high-five, because isn't that what kids do?

So, a potentially terrifying experience became a wonderful moment which I will always treasure.

A final word of advice?  Don't pass out bookmarks at lunchtime, because you will definitely get in trouble with the cafeteria lady!

JOHN :0)


Jackie Tweedie said...

Aw, John, made me cry! You know, if you're ever in that spot again of not having enough handouts, I bet if you told the teachers, they would have made copies for you.

John said...

Hi Jackie,

I did ask about making copies of the activity pages... I have no idea what happened to them, though. I calculated last night that I had an audience of about 100people, including several grown ups, and less than 45 minutes to talk once we were set up. As it was, I think we were late for lunch. :0)

As for my handouts, like bookmarks and stuff, I really should have brought whole boxes, instead of handfuls. It's always good to be over prepared, and I should have known that.

Next time, I'll show up extra early, and dragging a wagon of stuff behind me. :0)