A big part of the brilliance of Ignite Cardiff is the fact that its talks can come from anyone, from any angle- on subjects that are truly extraordinary or touchingly ordinary, things that happen to an unusual few, or things we all experience over time.
Amongst the great talks at the last Ignite Cardiff, the talk from the brilliant Cardiff based writer Christina Thatcher seemed to bridge these two sides- giving a unique view into something we all experience. And if you weren’t luck enough to see it then, definitely give to a watch.
In the mist of Ignite Cardiff the organisers (Steve Dimmick, Ed Barnett, Mark Stevenson, Miranda Bishop, James Harding, and James Davies) got up on stage to thank everyone, and to call for more people to come forward as speakers. This got us thinking- why don’t more people go for it? We all have experiences to share, things we care about- if we’re all happy to tweet away, or to update our Facebook status’s to hundreds, whats keeping us off a stage?
We asked the lovely Christina to feature on a blog post for us, on her experience of doing her talk “On Writing Grief”, and on why people should speak up.
Experts say that public speaking is one of the most anxiety-producing experiences of a person’s life. As speakers we are afraid to look foolish in front of strangers, afraid of what the audience thinks of our bodies, clothes, and the way we speak. We are afraid that we will somehow – in these strangely significant moments in front of a crowd – make a mistake we can never live down. This fear suggests that we don’t trust the people listening to us. We believe that we have come to share something and that they have come to judge, point, laugh, or heckle.
Although it may feel this way before you hit the stage, public speaking is much more about togetherness than isolation. In November, I signed up to deliver a talk called ‘Writing Grief’ at Ignite Cardiff which focused on how writing poetry and leading workshops helped me cope with my father’s death. The audience was massive that night and, of course, I was nervous. I was going to share some dark truths about my family and about myself. I would be alone up there, vulnerable. Still, I was determined to do it – I believed in what I was saying and thought others might benefit from my experiences.
After reciting my presentation quietly in the bathroom, meeting the other speakers backstage, and drinking a beer amongst the crowd I realised something: that we were all in this together. Yes, I was going to share a deeply personal story and yes, the audience members were going to sit calmly in their comfortable seats, but we both had a job to do.
I was there to talk about something that has changed my life, something I am passionate about, something I believe could help other people. The audience was there to listen – to stay quiet when I needed them to, to laugh if the time was right, to clap loudly after I was done to let me know that everything was okay. After my talk members of the audience went even further – they hugged me, told me about loved ones they had lost, promised they would write a poem. I received over 20 encouraging Tweets in the first minute I stepped off stage and nearly 50 after I’d reached my seat. It was incredible! They had listened and wanted to let me know that I had truly been heard.
Now, I am not saying that every talk will end this way. I think Ignite Cardiff is something special and I shared a particularly personal story that spoke to people experiencing their own grief. But I think this kind of connection is present at every free talk. The audience comes to listen to people who are passionate and engaging. They come to learn and enjoy themselves. You can trust them. They are on your side and are looking forward to hearing what you have to say.
So, go out and say it.
Take a look at Christina’s blog here.