Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Day 3 - Body movements

Yesterday, Dana sent the following about my talk last week:

“I noticed that you're relatively stiff from the waist down. Perhaps we can work on moving with your energy tomorrow. In addition, I noticed that your gesturing is consistent with your vocal tone. If you're putting emphasis on a word, you're probably making hand gestures that support that. That's good. We'll play with that a little bit tomorrow, too.”

We started today’s meeting with a discussion about Eric Demain. He is a great speaker and I wanted to know Dana’s opinion about his hand movements. I realized that Eric has been a student of Dana in a comedy class. Dana told me that Eric’s hand movements are in par with his other movements and their excessive move conveys a sign of enthusiasm: “It is like an unfamiliar birth species moving their wings differently but after all they can fly”. We continued with some tongue twisters with an emphasis on ‘Th’, ‘L’, and ‘R (these are harder for a native Persian speaker). Here is a website that Dana introduced:

Dana suggested to start and end a talk with a joke. Sometimes, to grab attention in a classroom, he said, I can say a sentence in another language (e.g., my mother tongue) to grab students’ attention at the beginning of the class (this does not seem to be appropriate for a research talk). In addition to be a comedian, Dana is also a mime artist. Practising mimes can be helpful in improving one’s gesture, facial expressions, and body movement. For that, Dana did a mime and I guessed what he wanted to convey, and repeated this with roles changed.

To improve my movements, we went to the open area beside Stata. While Dana was swiftly changing his location, I started miming (talking silently) about a research topic. The idea was that I pay attention to different locations, approach to the people that I am looking at, and move smoothly back to the center.  For the second practice, Dana asked me to improvise a talk about Halloween. I was supposed to keep my hands up and moving (do not put the down) while approaching the audience and having eye contact with them. I tried to add  pauses in my talk, and I could see improvements in my body movements. Although, there is still a long way to go.

Video of my talk is here.

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