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Old February 10th, 2007, 04:51 AM
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Default Guest speaker has questions

I've been ask to be a guest speaker on HAL's "Vikings and the Czars" cruise in June of 2007. I'm very excited as this will be my first cruise and I was interested in hearing some thoughts and opinions from experienced cruisers as to what they enjoyed about a guest speaker program and what they did not like. I am a composer/conductor so my three talks will be about 1. Music for the Olympics (I was music director of the the '96 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City). 2. Music for Animation and 3. The Academy Awards; I conducted the show in 2002. I would very much appreciate any input you might have.
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Old February 11th, 2007, 11:25 PM
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Oh that sounds interesting. I know you'll enjoy cruising. I would think that people would enjoy hearing about how you come up with ideas for music. How you decide what would be good for a particular theme. They might also like to hear little known things about music in general. As a former teacher maybe you could use interactive methods to get a hook into the group. People on cruises love to learn so whatever you throw at them will be fine. Be sure to tell them stories about yourself and especially about the Olympics. Most of your audience will be well versed on the Olympics you worked on since they were in the US. They'll also be interested in the animation work and how you put music to that. I wish I was going to be along for your talks. I know they'll be fascinating. Have fun.
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Old February 11th, 2007, 11:46 PM
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Thanks Bridget. I do plan to have video clips for all three lectures. Your suggestions were great and I appreciate them.
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Old February 14th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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After listening to a vulcanologist in Hawaii and a naturalist in Alaska who were both wonderful I can tell you what they did! They both kept their lectures light. They also involved the people in the lectures, didn't just stand behind the podium and talk, but walked around and conversed. It was more like a conversation than a lecture. I actually learned more about volcanoes than I intended to just because it was fun.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 05:04 AM
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I don't have any wonderful ideas for you, and I'm tone deaf, so music is unfortunately kind of lost on me... but it sounds like fascinating topics, and I'd love to be there to listen.

Good luck, and I have no doubt your audiences will be delighted.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Funny, I am also a musician, but not of your caliber, and I also used to stage manage on Holland America, so I would have been the one assiting you with your mics and video clips, etc.

My advice is that visual aids helpa great deal. Do be light-hearted. Don't underestimate your audiences' intelligence. Though a lot of your talk will be pretty technical, just introduce topics by giving them a definition, and then go on with what you have to say. The key is keeping your audience in touch with what you are saying. If you go over their head it is usually because you have introduced a topic they don't understand.

If you are getting a quizzical look from your audience feel free to stop and ask if anyone has a question. If it helps clarify what you are saying answer it, but if it is off topic say you will answer it later. Then allow plenty of time at the end for questions. If you run out of questioners, make it broader, 'any question at all?"
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Old February 15th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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Keep your audience engaged and don't stick to a strict pre-defined format. If the folks in the audience are asking questions about one particular facet of your talk ... then don't be afraid to switch gears and focus on that point of interest.

I find the best speakers are the ones who are at ease and willing to "go with the flow." Yes, of course you have to have a general direction for your talk, but don't be afraid to deviate from it if the audience seems to want more info about something you had planned only to touch upon in your prepared talk.

Blue skies and have fun!

--rita
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Old February 15th, 2007, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kryos
Keep your audience engaged and don't stick to a strict pre-defined format. If the folks in the audience are asking questions about one particular facet of your talk ... then don't be afraid to switch gears and focus on that point of interest.

I find the best speakers are the ones who are at ease and willing to "go with the flow." Yes, of course you have to have a general direction for your talk, but don't be afraid to deviate from it if the audience seems to want more info about something you had planned only to touch upon in your prepared talk.

Blue skies and have fun!

--rita
I would have said that, but with his range of topics, I would be afraid what I would find a very interesting discussion on writing music to specification and what goes on behind the scenes will turn into a discussion of what each celebrity was wearing that night. You can't let your audience lead your talk to the point where you lose control of why you are there, especially if the topic switches to something you feel is of limited intellectual scope. Have faith in your original topic, and if other areas of interest pop up find a way to include them, but not to the point of losing your original focus. You can always talk faster.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter
You can't let your audience lead your talk to the point where you lose control of why you are there, especially if the topic switches to something you feel is of limited intellectual scope. Have faith in your original topic, and if other areas of interest pop up find a way to include them, but not to the point of losing your original focus. You can always talk faster.
Okay, maybe I wasn't as clear as I could have been. Of course, you can't let your audience lead you off-topic, but if the questions seem all focused ... from several audience members ... on a certain aspect of your topic ... what I meant was don't feel compelled to cover everything in your next five slides that cover other points you wanted to cover. If the audience seems fascinated about point A and peppers you with questions about that ... then don't feel compelled to move on to topics B, C and D at the expense of leaving the audience wanting more on Topic A. Of course, if Topic A is gonna be the focus of a future lecture you're doing on that same sailing, then yes ... tell the audience that you will be presenting another talk in a few days that will answer all of their questions on that subject, and move on. But if it is simply a matter that you weren't expecting so much interest in Topic A, then go with the flow and give the audience what they want. Then file their interest away for your future reference. Maybe on future sailings you can expand your lecture offerings to doing a whole presentation just on Topic A.

All I meant is some of these Explorations Series speakers seem to have a set format ... just like a college professor who must cover certain material for his students' next quiz. Well, a cruise ship is not a college classroom, and I find that the most interesting and engaging speakers are the ones who, at least to some extent, let the audience determine the direction of their presentations ... assuming that direction stays within the framework of the overall topic.

Just my humble opinion ...

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--rita
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Old February 15th, 2007, 12:52 PM
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Kryos, thanks for clarifying. I also agree that I have seen speakers skip over topics I found interesting because they needed to finish up their slides.

It is good to take cues from your audience, especially reading their faces as they respond to things you say. You can tell when they are getting bored or confused, for example.

But you also have to be sure one questioner does not dominate your talk. I have seen one questioner ramble on & on about something he was interested in to the point of boring everyone else, and the best reply to someone doing that by a speaker is to say, "good point, now moving on..."
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Old February 15th, 2007, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter
But you also have to be sure one questioner does not dominate your talk. I have seen one questioner ramble on & on about something he was interested in to the point of boring everyone else, and the best reply to someone doing that by a speaker is to say, "good point, now moving on..."
Absolutely ... and have "friendly" ways to "shut them up" without hurting their feelings. You want the majority of your audience to have their interests addressed ... not just the most vocal one.

Blue skies ...

--rita
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Old February 15th, 2007, 07:40 PM
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Thank you Paul and Rita. Your comments are extremely helpful! I will be using video excerpts from the Olympic ceremonies in my talk and the real challenge on that one will be keeping it to just 40 minutes. Yes, I am prepared to be a bit flexible and yes, of course, this is supposed to be fun and I plan to make it so.

My second talk, "Music for Animation," was originally geared for children knowing that adults would be in attendance as well but then I got to thinking that there won't be any children, under 9 or so, on a Baltic Sea cruise. What do you think?

Mark
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Old February 15th, 2007, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travlinman525
Thank you Paul and Rita. Your comments are extremely helpful! I will be using video excerpts from the Olympic ceremonies in my talk and the real challenge on that one will be keeping it to just 40 minutes. Yes, I am prepared to be a bit flexible and yes, of course, this is supposed to be fun and I plan to make it so.

My second talk, "Music for Animation," was originally geared for children knowing that adults would be in attendance as well but then I got to thinking that there won't be any children, under 9 or so, on a Baltic Sea cruise. What do you think?

Mark
Mark, as I said, I worked on Holland America as a stage manager in Europe, Count on there being almost no children under 30 (not a typo) in your audience. In all honesty, I am sure you are very interesting, but I am surprised HAL chose you for that topic in the Baltic. I guess things have changed since I was there, but please don't take that wrong - surprise doesn't mean I think it doesn't make sense, it is just that HAL used to have regional experts on their cruises for enrichment speakers, like a Titanic expert when we crossed the Atlantic.

In any case, since your talk was geared for children it is safe to say it will be "fun" which is good for adults, just shift the information to an older audience. Music for animation is not really different from regular film scoring, so maybe just shift it that way. Same discussion, really; timing, texture, timecodes, scores, screens, countoffs. The math formula for figuring out the time sequence (frames per second, etc) will be more interesting to adults than kids.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 09:35 PM
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Paul, thanks for the tip. What a valuable rescource you are. I can easily change my talk from "Music for Animation" to simply "Music for Film."

Thanks again,


Mark
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Old February 15th, 2007, 11:41 PM
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The thing about being a valuable resource is I am often a thread ender. I know too much about everything. Go ahead ask me anything....

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Old February 16th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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I would agree to keep it light and engage the audience where you can. One way to not let those "what was she wearing" questions disrupt your flow is to announce up front that you'll have a Q & A session at the end.

I have found HAL passengers to be knowledge sponges. The folks I've met are eager to learn new things, and the onboard enrichment series provide this opportunity. You may not have a packed house, but then again you might. But those who are there are ready to learn something new.

Your topics sound really interesting. I'd love to hear them. Perhaps someday we'll be on the same ship.
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Old February 16th, 2007, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhannah
I would agree to keep it light and engage the audience where you can. One way to not let those "what was she wearing" questions disrupt your flow is to announce up front that you'll have a Q & A session at the end.
Yeah, but the problem with doing that is you lose all the audience feedback you could be getting during your presentation, that could help determining its direction. Maybe a better way to handle questions that don't really pertain to the subject matter of the presentation would be to smile and say ... "interesting thought ... let's discuss it after the formal presentation since I'll be sticking around for a while." I'd hate to restrict questions to the end, though ... as I would want the audience feedback during my presentation, not afterwards when my time is up and I can't do anything to tailor some of the material to their particular areas of interest.

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Old February 16th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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Mark, Hi. I agree with Rita and Paul about many things they have stated. However, I think you would be incorrect to assume that your audience wouldn't be interested in the animation talk. Cartoons are wonderful and many, many adults are devotees of animation. I for one would love to hear you speak on this subject, as well as the others.

Good luck with your lectures and have fun with it.
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Old February 16th, 2007, 09:08 PM
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Mark, I think you should go ahead with your Music in Animation lecture. With so many animated full-length features in the last few years, "cartoons" aren't just for kids anymore! These movies appeal to all audiences, and many HAL cruisers have likely spent some great times with (or without) children and grandchildren watching delightful animated movies. I expect your audience will be fascinated! Have a great time on your cruise...

Bonnie
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Old February 18th, 2007, 02:23 AM
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Quote:
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The thing about being a valuable resource is I am often a thread ender. I know too much about everything. Go ahead ask me anything....
Okay, how did you go about getting that wonderful gig? Are you retired and have lots of time to cruise? Can you pick the cruises where you'd like to be a guest speaker? Did you have to send HAL an audition tape, or audition personally? Does HAL actually pay you, or do you just get a free cabin in return? If that last question is too personal, feel free to skip it.

One day I'd love to have a guest speaker type gig on cruise ships. It's just that right now, with my limited cruising time, it just wouldn't work out. But, I'd love to hear about the process you went through to get hired.

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--rita
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Old February 18th, 2007, 12:07 PM
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Rita...

I actually never post how I got my job with the cruise lines because if I did I post it everyone would do it and it wouldn't work so well. The most important thing is knowing who to contact and making sure that when you do contact them you give them a very good presentation of what you can do.

As for what you get - I believe most guest speakers only receive a free cabin in return for their talk. I also think that it is up to the cruise line to decide which cruises they will invite guest speakers on, as they tend to want to put "enrichment" mostly on longer cruises in unusual places, as most guest speakers have something to do with the area that is being visited.

That is why I said I was surprised by travelinman's offer of speaking about his work in the Baltic, merely an unusual fut. However, the point is that they tend to put speakers on the longer itineraries (not the 7-day Caribbean variety, though I have seen it done).

Some cruise lines use guest speakers all the time: Cunard, Crystal, Silversea (they get really top-notch speakers). I have seen an investment speaker on a 10-day Princess Panama Canal cruise.
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Old February 18th, 2007, 08:28 PM
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Music for Film is a good idea as is keeping things light. BTW, BTDT that as a guest speaker with HAL in the '80s - you will enjoy the experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travlinman525
Paul, thanks for the tip. What a valuable rescource you are. I can easily change my talk from "Music for Animation" to simply "Music for Film."

Thanks again,


Mark
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Old February 19th, 2007, 03:21 AM
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Rita...

I actually never post how I got my job with the cruise lines because if I did I post it everyone would do it and it wouldn't work so well. The most important thing is knowing who to contact and making sure that when you do contact them you give them a very good presentation of what you can do.
I know HAL uses an agency ... SixthStar or something like that. But I was wondering how the other cruise lines did it. My problem is that right now I would be restricted as to how many cruises a year I could do. I still have to work for a living, unfortunately. So with about six weeks of vacation a year, it would be difficult. But this sure sounds like an exciting way to see the world on the cheap for the person who could take advantage of such opportunities.

Ahhhhh, to be retired and free ...

Blue skies ...

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Old February 19th, 2007, 03:18 PM
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This is a reply to Bonnie who so nicely suggested I stay with my idea to do a talk on "Music for Animation." Now that I know that there will be no childeren on the cruise, I think it would be a poor fit because the way I intended to do it was to show clips from things I scored, which have been for a younger audience, without music and then with music and then again with the "wrong" kind of music. I've done this talk a few times in schools and it has been very successful because animation proves to be a common ground that allows me to discuss the power and importance of music. I can, essentially, do the same thing for adults but it would be better to use a movie or TV show that they might have seen.

It also occured to me that this Baltic cruise visits several cities that have hosted the Olympics. The topic of my first talk is about my experiences as music director for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. It should be fairly easy to tie it all together.

So grateful for everyone's input.

Mark
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