Watersprite Film Festival's Public Speaking Workshop Experience

A few weeks ago the committee members of Watersprite Film Festival had the pleasure of attending a public speaking workshop organised by Julia Andrews-Clifford of the Young Film Programmers Network (South East). In this blog they share their thoughts on the experience.

Prior to Watersprite coming up this March, many of the committee members were keen to improve our skills of introducing guest speakers, hosting Q&As and presenting in front of a large audience. As we settled into the lecture hall, Julia reassured us that although public speaking may seem like a lot of pressure, anyone can do it successfully after learning a few tricks and practising the skills enough times — you don’t need to be a professional to present yourself and others successfully.

Although this speech fuelled us with a bit more confidence than we had before, we realised a few of us didn’t know each other and the task might be a bit more nerve wracking than expected. We split into pairs and had five minutes to prepare before presenting our partner to the group as we would a guest speaker. Although five minutes felt like a very short time frame to prepare for a detailed introduction, we managed to get a lot of information, so much so that Julia recommended we only include three main points. When you limit your presentations to three ideas, the listeners are able to follow along and remember more, especially when you link them together with a rhetoric or a joke and avoid lists and repetitions.

During our turn in the audience, we were asked to give feedback and tell the speaker what we remembered about the person they were presenting. It was clear that we remembered most when the speaker used hand gestures, made eye contact with both the audience and those they were presenting and put emphasis on key words or terminology. The takeaway was that it is not only projection or articulation that makes a presentation good, but that body language plays a crucial role in the audience’s take up of the information.

Our next task was to present not someone else, but rather ourselves in a short pitch, relating to our experience in film and the festival. Although by this point we knew everyone in the room, this activity was much harder as it required more confidence to show ourselves off enough and yet still remain genuine. We were asked to give feedback on our own performance and see what we would do differently, and then try it by presenting ourselves a second time. We found that we had more confidence the second time and were able to include more exciting details, yet our speeches came across more stilted. This exercise proved that talking about what we feel is relevant and natural to us is more important than presenting ourselves in the most positive light.

The workshop helped us to practise new skills, learn the importance of delivery and content as well as the need to prioritise feeling natural and comfortable in order to boost our confidence for public speaking. On behalf of the Watersprite team I would like to say a huge thank you to Julia for taking the time to teach us such valuable skills and to the Young Film Programmers’ Network for giving us such an opportunity.

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