Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

The Big Talk

I gave my talk this morning at the conference and I'm still slowly processing the nervous adrenalin. I was a keynote speaker, actually, the conference opener. I knew they liked my singing (there's a big song in the middle of the presentation) and it was clear they were paying very close attention but when I finished (and there were several good questions, which I realize now is a good sign) I felt funny, as if the talk didn't shine and sparkle as I hoped it would. Everybody was attentive, but somewhat quiet throughout. But then the guy who spoke after me gave a very entertaining and extremely well done presentation on doing presentations, and the reaction was similar: polite attention but no laughing energy. (He made a couple of references in his own talk to my talk, which I thought was great.) Anyway, I think what people are telling me is true: It's first thing in the morning and everybody was up very late last night drinking wine and beer and having a grand old Australian time. So the fact they they all made it right on time to the 9am talk is in itself a vote of confidence. And while they'd say this anyway, because they are sweet here, people are saying nice things to me now -- even people I don't know. (Even a section of the talk where I put on a fedora and pretend to be a Raymond Chandler detective, which I thought sunk like a lead balloon, is being noted as very funny -- so it does seen to be the case that it's just a quiet and respectful audience.)

I'm going to be obsessing on this for a while. You must forgive me.

It seemed to me from the stage (of the big bright but emotionally cold room) that people didn't sing along when I tried to bully them into joining me on the chorus of The Tech Writer's Lament, but three different people have come up to me and said, "I can't believe you got people to sing!" so I think it was just the acoustics. It was the right and important thing to show up several days early because once people know you they come to your talk full of eager support.

So I think I'm happy about things.

I'm certainly happy about the fun last night, at the "trivia night" at a local "African Room" restaurant. Folks showed up eager and anxious to enjoy themselves, and so they did. I didn't realize that simply attending the event meant you had to play -- each table was a team. As it turned out I did know the answers to a few questions that nobody else at my table did (not many -- the sort of knowledge I have is rarely tapped into at such events), but one of the questions I did know was who founded the Swan River Colony at what was later Perth. (Stirling was my guess, since the road out to the hotel is named after his wife.) This impressed the folks here, that the visiting American was the only one who knew the answer. But I knew nothing about Lord of the Rings or James Bond. On the other hand, all of the others at my table knew everything about these topics.

The folks running the conference are taking great care of me -- making sure I had a nice table at the trivia contest dinner last night, with interesting folks who had just arrived they thought I should meet (and who spent the evening buying bottles of expensive red wine from this region and insisting I join them).

I guess I can start to relax now, except now everybody wants to talk with me about my work. Hmmm...I think that, too, is a good sign.

It's over and everybody knows me now. I can stop carrying my notebook around with me, looking over my talk at every break. Maybe I'll come up with an answer to the "when will the MP3 of your song be available?" question.

More later but for now I can comfortably say: Hey folks, come to Australia!
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