Saturday, June 30, 2012

Seize the Shibir

Green Day Concert Crowd - Put Your Hands Up For Green Day

Bill Clinton, Lady Gaga, and Chris Rock all have one thing in common - they know how to work a crowd, and we can too at a shibir or a convention! 

Sure, it’s a larger audience, but to be an effective shibir speaker, we will have to do a few things different from what we already do on a Sunday-to-Sunday basis. Aside from a larger audience, we have a new setting, a new microphone, and new faces in the crowd.

As always, we will need to do our SUS in order to to give our talk meaning, but an article at Lifehacker gave us a few more pointers:

Know Your Environment: Presentations always start with knowing the environment. How many people will be there? Am I presenting to K1, K2, Kindergarteners, or 8th graders? Will I have a screen? Remember, you, the presenter, are responsible for getting the message across to the audience. Therefore, don’t be afraid to make a simple request in order to make your presentation flow smoothly.

Body Language: Every Sunday, we have the chance to have one-to-one eye contact with every single person in the room. When talking to a bigger crowd, eye contact is still important though much harder. Therefore, we have to be strategic. Break down the audience into different blocks, and work with each of the blocks one at a time. Imagining the audience as a huge mass will make it harder for you to develop a connection with your crowd.

Keep it Simple: Try to avoid using a large amount of special effects in the presentation. Don’t sacrifice clarity for animations, sounds, and/or background images. Even if we’re using PowerPoint, it’s best to keep the slides straightforward and clean.

Interactivity: Without being a afternoon talk-show host, there are certainly ways that we can connect with our audience at shibirs. Because there is a large audience, things might get tricky when we’re trying to get interactive, but we can always create exercises to make it happen by asking the audience to do any of the following.
  • "Turn to the person on your left and talk about..."
  • "Write 3 things on your sticky note that..."
  • "Raise your hand if..."
  • "Rub your tummy, stomp your feet, etc." (for bal mandal of course)
Getting out from behind the podium is also another way to connect with the audience as well as getting a wireless mic to ask the audience questions to get interaction. Of course, we would be wise to avoid frivolous inquiry like, "Who is the President?" "What is agna?" "Who can define raajipo?" 

All in all, a shibir talk just requires a modified approach that would not be possible without the basic understanding of a Sunday talk, for only after captivating a sabha audience can we hope to hold a shibir audience. 

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