A few of you might know that I live streamed my Floggers 101 class on my Firebird Leather Facebook page last week. While I got mostly positive feedback for the class, I did get quite a few people asking me why I didn’t teach it at one of the local dungeons. I live in Los Angeles where we have many great options for places for kinksters to gather. So why would I primarily teach classes either online or privately in a neutral space?
It is not because I have anything against any of the wonderful local establishments, and I will occasionally come out of my whole to present at some of them. However, this class was primarily for my clientele. I have an international client base, and so any information I want to give them is best given via the internet.
But there is a bigger reason. The one complaint that I get after almost every class I teach as a guest of an educator, or hear about/witness in classes taught by other people, is that the guest presenter is constantly interrupted or cut off by either the host of the event who invited them, or the audience member who I will call The Storyteller.
Let me outline the situation a little more clearly. Many educational events in the community are held by a group with a host. The host is the primary educator and gives most of the classes on a specific topic. Sometimes they invite other educators to come in and teach the class to get a different point of view or information about the topic they might not have all the experience in.
While they invited this educator, the host will interrupt their presentation to either give their own opinion of what the person just said, or “expand on a point” in such a way that ends in them basically just teaching the class themselves with only mere commentary from the guest.
When your class is 75% the host and only 25% or less the guest, what was the point of having them? Every community has educators who get off on teaching because they feel it makes them a big fish in a niche community. So perhaps this behavior is born of ego and insecurity, but it leads to many people coming away from the class saying, “I wish they would have let that person talk more! I’ve heard the hosts opinion, I came to hear a different one!”
This is *much* more prevalent when the host is male and the guest presenter female.
Next up is The Storyteller. This person is a member of the audience, and it is likely anyone who has been to a lecture has run into this person. The Storyteller is someone who also attempts to add their own commentary on the class topic but does it by masking it as an anecdote or lengthy explanation leading to a question that only sometimes has anything to do with the point the speaker is trying to make.
The Storyteller is the person who keeps trying to make the class all about them, and who you wish would just get with the presenter afterward to ask all these “questions” because they are slowing the entire class down.
The Storyteller puts the speaker in a tough position. Many speakers encourage questions and discourse to a certain extent either during the lecture or after, but The Storyteller isn’t really asking a question, they’re trying to fluff their peacock feathers in front of an audience. Unless the speaker is fairly experienced, it can be difficult to shut The Storyteller down without coming across as rude and/or discouraging other people from asking real questions.
Being a presenter requires a certain amount of skills. You need to be articulate, have a thorough knowledge of your topic, and a willingness to teach, but these are only the very basics. A good presenter can read the energy of a room and work it to give everyone a good experience. They are skilled at using inflection and body language to convey information and they are good at avoiding getting caught in the trap of The Storyteller. They also can command a room in a way that makes the host less likely to interrupt.
I am not a full-time professional presenter. I know a lot about a few topics and am happy to share my knowledge, but I do not have the extensive practice in working a lecture crowd and I do get caught in The Storyteller’s trap, and I can be undermined by the host.
So to the hosts; stop speaking over your presenters. If they get stuck then interjecting a question or a prompt is helpful, but keep your lengthy opinions to your classes. To The Storytellers; find your own class and then you can talk as much as you want. What you’re doing is rude. Quit it.
To the hosts who hand the reins over to their guests without ego; Thank you! You rock! And to everyone who attends classes and lectures and asks good questions that help the groups understanding of the topic and add to the discourse; Thank you! You also rock.