tip talk

Just a quick background: One day I received a phone call from a fellow blogger and friend, Sir Boyong Aldana, who currently teaches Literature at the Technological Institute of the Philippines. The Languages and Literature Society, under his advisory, will be holding its Annual Convention and I was invited to be the guest speaker. Of course I said yes, I was honored and excited, sure kelan yan game go go go.

After the call, in the quiet and solitude of my apartment, I was left thinking to myself, Teka, ano raw?

With over a week to prepare, like a true professional I waited until two days before the event to work on my topic and my Powerpoint presentation. There's nothing like a deadline to push a person to the limits of their abilities.

And so with my Powerpoint presentation and my cue cards in hand I went to TIP early in the morning of February 26, straight from the office after logging out of my night shift work. Which now, looking back, is my Mistake #1, the mistake of attending an event with a less fresh version of yourself.

I sat at a Family Mart quietly rehearsing my speech, my witty one-liners, my punchlines, and my serious pieces of advice.

Soon enough Sir Boyong brought me to the Seminar room, where students, around more than 50 or so, were waiting.

Yup that's me in violet, contemplating my life while Sir Boyong gave a short introduction.

When I was called to the stage, all I could think to myself was, Okay, bahala na, kaya ko ito. I decided to wing it.

Not to sound proud or anything but I did come there as prepared as I could. My speech consisted of three parts: I talked about how my book, Unang Putok, came into existence, then I discussed my writing process (as in how exactly do I come up with short stories), and told them about the publishing process. I counted off good pieces of advice which I thought were helpful and practical, like:

Write what you would enjoy reading
Pull material from your own expertise or experiences
Read and be inspired

Tama naman diba?

So I went up there and delivered my best, despite my crippling stage fright. Yes, I have an irrational fear of public speaking since forever. Because I'm shy.

This is the reason I am mostly quiet on grand meetups organized by bloggers. This is why I remain on the sidelines during outreach activities. It's not because I'm disinterested or bored, I'm just too fucking shy. It's like an illness I have never recovered from since my childhood, from the days of my school presentations to my thesis defense and up until now in my supposed adult life.

To combat this shyness I made Mistake #2, which was trying to be funny when you aren't. I peppered my speech with uncomfortable jokes, some of which went unnoticed. IT WAS SAD.

To make up for it I decided to focus on my content. And with it came Mistake #3, which I realized, was my biggest mistake of all: not engaging the audience, or in other words, being boring. I stood there behind the podium like the First Reader at mass.

I must have driven half the room to sleep. Hell, even I made MYSELF sleepy. My voice, which I describe as awkwardly deep and painfully monotone - I get sleepy just thinking about it now.

Moreover, I stayed in that corner of the stage, which felt like my comfort zone at the time, throughout the duration of my talk. I forgot that my audience are college students. I should have talked TO them, not over them. I should have asked questions and not just wait for my hour to finish. Oh well, lessons learned.

Over all I just hope I did not waste their time listening to me drone on and on, I hope they picked something up because I definitely learned a lot. This experience is so enriching for me, and I will definitely look back to it with fondness because it's my first talk and I fucked it up. OK not really fucked it up but I feel like I could have done so much better.

There's so much room to improve. If I get invited again to deliver a talk at an event like this, I probably won't repeat the same mistakes. I loved the part where I got to share my experiences and my little bit of knowledge, I'll just probably work on presenting it better where I don't cause mass narcolepsy.

One of my pieces of advice was: Find material in everything, turn your misadventures into stories. Oh well there it is.

Maraming salamat Sir Boyong and the entire Languages and Literature Society sa imbitasyon. Nag-enjoy ako sa kabila ng pagiging mahiyain, masaya ako sa experience na ito, at tatanawin ko itong isang magandang alaala.

Thanks to the LLS Facebook page for the photos.
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