The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Monday, June 25, 2012

Watching myself present (1): waving my hands about

At the end of last week, I was sent the video recording of my presentation at IATEFL in Glasgow back in March. The nice folks at Collins (who the talk was for) wanted me to okay it before they put it up on digital media. It’s always odd watching yourself on video and although I’ve got a bit used to it lately (what with doing webinars), the process was still accompanied by various dismayed exclamations and covering of my face with my hands at the worst points! Everyone has their own personal cringe points – overly repeated phrases, silly facial expressions – for me it’s hand-waving. 
Way back when I did my very first conference presentation (at IATEFL in Dublin in 2000), I went on a two-day presentation skills course first. At the start of the course, we were each videoed doing a mini presentation, then we watched it back to see what we wanted to improve. For me, I decided I had to stop waving my hands around like a maniac – a habit, no doubt, picked up through years of EFL teaching and living in countries where I didn’t speak the language very well! So with the course tutor, we worked on tactics that would keep my hands a bit under control. We finally settled on clasping my hands in front of me while I spoke. When it got to the end-of-course video presentation though, the results were absolutely hilarious … yes, I kept my hands clasped in front of me, but it didn’t stop me waving them about like some kind of demented rumba routine! I decided at that point that maybe it was better to just be myself, to stop worrying about the hands and just do my own thing.

In the intervening years though, I fear the hand-waving’s become more exaggerated without me noticing. Watching back my presentation, it looked like I was conducting the whole thing in sign language! Eva, my contact at Collins, very kindly said in response to my emailed reaction; “I think your hands just show that you’re passionate about what you’re talking about”. Personally though, I think it’s something I need to get under control and I’m going to be making a concerted effort to cut it down. I’ll let you know how I get on …

Watch the video and judge for yourself here: Breaking down the AWL - IATEFL 2012

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Blogger Leo said...

Hello Julie
Having been to your presentation at IATEFL (I was the one sitting in the back row who asked you about the choice of collocations for different levels) I didn't notice at all that you waved your hands around much - until I came across this post of yours. Perhaps because I wave my hands in the air a lot too :)

7:12 pm  
Blogger The Toblerone Twins said...

Hi Leo,
Thanks, that's reassuring! I think it's just a self-conscious thing about watching yourself on video ;)

I'm currently mulling over a post about academic collocations, by the way, so watch this space ...

PS Thanks, for a really good question too!

9:46 pm  

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