Boring 2010: A Speaker’s PerspectivePosted: December 13, 2010
This weekend just gone, I gave a talk on a very brief history of the weather at Boring 2010. Inspired by Owen Billinghurst’s write-up of his speaking experience regarding fixing keyboards, I’ve decided to jot down some of my own thoughts on the conference.
It was brilliant, it was funny, it was weird, it was very cool, and it wasn’t the slightest bit boring. That’s my review. For a more comprehensive description of the day’s events, I highly suggest you look at Lucy Peel’s rather excellent blog post which features a run-down of all talks given on the day.
So, why the weather? It’s a bit of a long story. On arriving at the conference, I was questioned about who I was, and if I was a meteorologist, and why I’m talking about the weather. I’m not a meteorologist, and am by no means an expert on the subject of the weather. I do, however, enjoy a good yarn, such as the one I’m currently recounting.
I was originally planning on speaking about boring social media ad campaigns. Anyone who follows this blog will know that I have a keen interest in awesome online ads, and am generally a huge fan of web magic. I’ve also recently completed a dissertation on online brand communities on YouTube, so am quite into the whole digital thing. However, it did occur to me that a topic such as social media could potentially be far too interesting for a conference called Boring, so I decided against it.
A talk with my family about the conference and boring things got me thinking about the weather. My basic understanding about the topic was that it was quite often used as fodder in small-talk situations. I then started researching the topic, and its etymology and history, and soon realised that it’s actually a lot more interesting than we give it credit for. As I said at the conference, we’re very much a nation of small-talkers. On the whole, I’d say we’re generally happier to make small-talk with a creepy person who strikes up a random conversation, rather than make excuses before they pull out a shiv, rubber mallet, or some kind of prosthesis and bonk us over the head with it. Of course, I’m making a sweeping generalisation here, and apologise if I’ve offended anyone. In many cases, I’m often the creepy person who starts conversations with strangers, and must implore you to understand that conversations between strangers can be really, really great. We will never discover this if we don’t break out of conventional habits of small-talk, however. It was my hope that my talk could illuminate some further understanding into a mundane topic, which would give everyone listening something novel to speak about, the next time they crack wise about the weather. Who knows where the conversation could go next!
That was what I would have said if I had any real experience with public speaking, that extended beyond school elections, GCSE English Speaking and Listening Assessments, and a brief stint as part of Richmond Student Council.
Overall, the day was brilliant, and I don’t think I’ve had so much fun in a long time. Personal highlights for me were Lewis Dryburgh’s sentimental talk about car park roofs, Peter Fletcher’s tale about his first year of recording his every sneeze, and Dave Green’s extremely funny bit about weird snack foods and Chinese take-away menus. These were just personal highlights, however. It was a real joy hearing everyone speak, and I was extremely impressed by the quality of all given talks, and the animated way in which everyone made a collection of very boring topics into the most interesting and joyous conference I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. Everyone should be really proud of themselves, with an extra large hat-tip going out to James Ward and his organisational prowess, without which none of this would have been possible. Thank you all.
I’ll (hopefully) be seeing you all again at Boring 2011. I honestly can’t wait.