Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What I did today...or, good thing I don't have a public speaking phobia

I'm still trying to absorb the results of the election, so I'm not ready to write much about that yet. I'm glad President Obama won re-election, and I'm glad the our local Measure B, which provides money for libraries, won. Taxes for schools won here in California, which means the kids of California won. That's good. There were some other good results, and a few I'm not so wild about. I'll probably write more about all of it in a couple of days, once I've had a chance to sit down and read some stuff and digest what it all might mean.

I haven't really had time to do that yet because I had other things to attend to today. It kind of felt like the world stopped yesterday for the election, but it's the day after now and we've all got to get back to everyday life now.

Which is what I did today.

I don't know that I've mentioned it much around here, but I'm currently out of work. Well, out of paying work. I've got a couple of writing projects that are ongoing, but those will pay when and if I can get them published. And while I'm looking for a paying job, I'm doing volunteer work for Central Valley Professionals, the group that puts on the week-long job search seminar I attended in June. In exchange for the volunteer work, I get use of their office facilities for my job search - phones if I need them, copy machines, and so forth - as well as a wonderful support system. It's a really cool deal. In exchange for 16 hours of volunteer work per month, they make their facilities available to their members. The way you become a member is by participating in the seminar.

When I was finished with the seminar, I was put on the Interview Committee. This means that I help with practice interview days the week after seminar week every month. I also help with the presentation on interviewing that my committee puts on every month at seminar, and I've been helping write and present some other workshops, as well. It's all a lot of fun.

Today was our seminar presentation for November, and it went pretty well. I've helped present enough times now that I can do it off-book (I don't need notes), just using the PowerPoint slides as prompts. The seminar participants laughed in the right places today, asked good questions that I was able to answer while not getting too far behind in the presentation (we have an hour and a half to present, which sounds like a long time, but really isn't), and I think my "um" count was down some this time. All of this is good.

It's interesting what comes out of my mouth sometimes when I'm doing my part of the presentation, which takes up about twenty minutes of the whole. I talk about actually interviewing for a job, as opposed to preparing for the interview or following up afterward, and one of the things I talk about is how it isn't good to just randomly fill silence with talking. There are times of silence within a job interview. Sometimes it is quiet while the interviewer or interviewers are making notes about what the interviewee has told them, and sometimes the silence is strategic, with the interviewers trying to see if they can get the interviewee to say something they shouldn't.

Today, the example I used came from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you've seen the movie, you know that when Frank-N-Furter invites Brad and Janet up to his lair, he has the line about "antici............pation". Even watching the movie, the silence in the middle of that word drives some people crazy. In the movie, Janet doesn't say anything to fill it, but she leans forward as if urging him to complete the word. As. Soon. As. Possible. I didn't plan to use this example. It just popped into my head and I used it. I'm not even sure it was really appropriate in the circumstances.

On the other hand, it worked. The seminar participants got the message I was trying to communicate about the urge of fill silences and the better practice of avoiding doing that. Additionally, it was interesting how I could tell which of the participants have seen the movie by the way they smiled at the reference. I think I might have confused one man, but he finally figured it out. And, no one from my committee said anything about the use of that as an example, so I guess it wasn't too out of line.

Maybe the best thing about the day is that I had fun presenting today. I finally know the material well enough to feel comfortable with it. I presented off-book last month as well, but even with rehearsal the night before I was not completely at ease while I was presenting. This time, I didn't rehearse; I was too busy watching the election returns last night. Despite that, it was fun and I think I got my points across.

Still, I'm glad that the seminar presentation is only once a month. Because of its nature and its purpose, it's very structured. I have more fun with the workshops because, although I write a script for each workshop, I don't necessarily have to stick to it so exactly.

I've got a workshop coming up soon, in fact. It's about proofreading resumes and cover letters, and I'm going to try to make it a little more fun and interesting than it sounds. It's a natural for me, as proofreading is one of the things I do very well, and I'm having fun writing it. I want to have a fake resume for the workshop participants to proofread, complete with planted mistakes, as an exercise that doesn't involve them having to go over their own resume yet again. We'll do that, too, but I thought having a resume to read for, say, someone who is applying for a job as a rat-wrangler, would make the exercise more fun.

What? There are rat-wranglers. I've done rat-wrangling. But that's another story for another day. Remind me sometime, and I'll tell you all about it.

In the meantime, since I'm looking for a job, without much luck, what was the weirdest job you ever had?

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