Monthly Archives: August 2012

Adventures at Connecticon – My Panel

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And onto the main event. The main course of the convention. The reason I had even come in the first place. My panel on talking to girls.

I was nervous that morning. Of course I was – everyone’s a bit nervous right before before giving a talk to people they’ve never met. Even the best and most experienced presenters I’ve talked to agree to this – the key is that they’ve become used to it. I… I wasn’t really used to it just yet.

So, I got up early and had a great breakfast of Bacon, Eggs, fruit, and coffee. I’ve found that being well fed is really the best way to get myself prepped and ready to get stuff done, and today was no exception.

I woke up at around 7:30 or so, but the panel itself wasn’t until 1:30 in the afternoon – giving Daniel, T, and myself just enough time to put the finishing touches on the presentation, go through our lines, and make sure that we all had the right cues set up for each other. We didn’t spend a huge amount of time prepping or going over our lines – instead we focused more on mentally readying ourselves, getting our minds in the right place.

And with that set up, we walked into the panel room.

And it was empty. Granted, I wasn’t expecting a full house, but I was at least hoping that someone would have shown up to it. I mean, it was only 20min before the panel, not that long, right?

Wrong. Not a soul was in the room until 10min before it started, and in those ten minutes, the room went from classification “ghost town” to classification “wait, there are no more seats?”

Seriously, it was completely full, to a standing room only level, within five minutes. So, once all three of us were comfortable, the laptops were running, and the projector was projecting, I stood up and started talking.

And I kept talking.

For nearly 30minutes, I held the room in my hand. We chatted, we joked, I played little games with the people in the front rows. It honestly went amazing, and I was quite surprised when the little timer we had set up started flashing to tell me that I needed to hand the reins over to T. It was exactly like tackling a tough climb – I sort of zoned out and rolled with it, keeping that perfect feeling of zen.

After I finished my set I handed the room over to Big T, who in turn handed it over to Daniel once he was finished up. All three of us rocked different presentation styles – I kept to my naturally mobile style, where I walked and talked, gestured and conversed directly with specific people. T pulled the “cool old grandpa” routine by pulling his chair up onto the stage, sitting down, and holding a fireside chat with the audience. Daniel worked a combination of the two, standing up, but holding himself a goodly bit more still and professional than I usually do.

After our last slide was done, and our last topic covered, we passed the floor over to the room itself by fielding questions from the audience.

To be honest, this part was my favorite – we got to talk even more conversationally with people, addressing specific concerns and directly answering questions that they had. We all had fun, and some of the people actually stayed so long after the panel that we had to leave the room in order to let the next on start on time.

Every part of the weekend was amazing, but the panel itself was by far my favorite portion of it – I love getting to meet new people and talk about adventures, and this was honestly just a chance to do that… even though these adventures were of a very specific type.

 

To see a video of the discussion, see it here!

WARNING – Not 100% suitable for all audiences.  Contains some coarse language, and the idea that you should treat women as normal people.  Scary, I know 😛

Adventures at Connecticon – The Rave

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No convention has a rave. That would be bad, because raves are totally only about drug-induced insanity, crazy dancing, and generally unacceptable tomfoolery. Dang kids!

However, every convention has an “informal dance party” that involves glowy things, blacklights, strobe lights, darkness, techno / trance music and a dance floor.

But that’s totally not a rave. Nope.

So, I was psyched to go. Partying with convention people is always one of the high points to a weekend like this, since everyone lets their hair down and goes a bit crazy – you get to see the uncensored and unleashed side of nerds… nerds who’re going all out to make up for the many times that they stay demure and mature.

Keeping that in mind, it was no surprise to me that Daniel and I started making friends as soon as we got in line to get into the ballroom. We started out just chatting with some random guys in line near us, but soon enough I had a posse of severely intoxicated ladies helping me try to convince Daniel to take off his shirt and paint himself with glowsticks.

And that… that was when I met “Trippy McRaver”, an impressively drunk/stoned/high girl who looked far too young to be drinking from anything besides her parents liquor cabinet. But man, was this girl hysterical – she kept trying to tell this one Cowboy Bebop joke, but was never able to keep her mind on one track long enough to finish it. At one point she literally stopped, mid-sentence, and started trying to steal my hair.

With Trippy keeping us entertained the line went supre-quick, and soon enough we were all dancing and rocking out in the middle of the dance floor, kicking it to the geekiest dance-mix I’ve ever heard. Seriously, they were mixing Usher with the Legend of Zelda theme, and pooling random pop with the original Contra soundtrack. It was excellent, and I found myself dancing with tons of random fun people, and participating in more conga lines that any man has a right to participate in.

As the night went on I chilled with a few groups of people, even meeting back up with Trippy once or twice for a brain-addled run through the crowd. I believe we were looking for lost treasure at least once, and for her lost soul another time.

But honestly, the night started to get a bit repetitive as it wore on. The music, while good, was very genre-specific… and while that can be cool, and the DJs were quite good, the music ran into itself after a few hours. So after once last adventure with Trippy and a final goodbye conga, Daniel and I headed back to the room to prep for our presentation the next afternoon.

Adventures at Connecticon – The Convention itself (Part 2)

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Part 2 of a two part (fun stuff that happened at the convention) post

In the interest of brevity and sanity, I’ve isolated a few of the more exciting events from the weekend below:

Hypnotism is Scary

Part of my volunteer work involved hanging out by the “panel operations” booth and making sure all the panelists had what they needed. Good practice for giving my own panel, and I made a lot of friends at the same time. But, unfortunately, that also meant that I had to help out the panelists with some time-intensive tasks… like playing cameraman for a hypnotist.

I had offered to help the hypnotist out on the assumption that I’d have backup – specifically from a cool woman I’d met named Emily. Unfortunately… she seemed to have other plans, and thus I got left to the wolves – alone at the panel running the camera, with no hope for relief or backup.

To be honest, the whole idea of hypnotism kinda weirds me out – the whole idea that people are so suggestible that they can be, effectively, controlled is just strange. And scary: am I that suggestible? I hope not… my entire persona is built around the idea that I am myself, and that I’m in control of my own brain.

But the show itself was rather entertaining. A few of the “volunteers” were obviously faking it, but some of them were quite impressively controlled – you could tell just by looking at them that they were 100% in thrall to this guy. The best portion was when he brought their friends up, and then gave the subjects X-ray vision… Seeing your best friend naked is bad enough, but then he switched their genders. Strange stuff, but entertaining none the less.

Overall, I enjoyed myself… but I don’t think I’ll be seeking any hypnotists out anytime soon, thank you very much.

Also, as a side note: there was a guy confined to a wheelchair at the panel.  He had an arrow in his knee.  This was one of the best “I took an arrow to the knee” references that I saw the entire weekend.

The Art of Storytelling

When I first got to the convention and picked up a schedule, I was a bit saddened – nothing really leapt out at me. Sure, there were a lot of semi-interesting panels going on that Allison and T told me about, but nothing was speaking to me on a personal level.

Nothing except for one panel – The Art of Storytelling. I didn’t realize it at first, but the panelist was the same guy that T and I had seen last year when he ran a whole discussion on the history and science of brewing. The guy’s a smart one, and this panel was looking to be just as amazing.

Unfortunately, I arrived more than a little late… 30min late to a 90min panel. I’ll freely admit it – I was distracted by snacks and naps in the hotel room. But once I did decide to head over for I made record time across the river – always an interesting thing to burst into a room, sweating and panting, where they’re telling a story about a dark sorcerer who’s trying to take over the city.

What?

The panel leader was teaching via the “trial by fire” tactic – people were getting up and talking. Talking about… anything, whatever came to mind. And then they’d sit down, and everyone else would critique it. Rough, for people unused to criticism, but the best way to do it in my opinion.

I didn’t get to stand up and take a stab at it, unfortunately, but I did come away with a huge number of little tips and trick that I used during my own presentation. The interesting thing is that we didn’t focus at all on the content – instead we only looked at the presentation of that content. How we spoke, our tone and pacing, and even our body position while speaking.

It was awesome, and I am 100% convinced that it was worth it… even though I did miss out on a nice long nap.