I consider myself to be a good speaker. I have done many book readings, presentations and convention panels where I have received positive feedback. I am able to (usually) think on my feet.
So, when I was asked to both participate in and moderate on a panel about humour at the 2012 World Fantasy Convention (in Toronto) I accepted without too much concern.
Then I saw the write-up about the panel.
The names of writers mentioned in the write-up (again about humour) were names I had never heard before. When I Googled them, I discovered that many were writers from the turn of the 20th century. Clearly, the person who conceived the idea for the panel was either an ancient or someone who felt we needed to speak on the topic in a literary way (because clearly no one from the present could write humour). I was a bit baffled at how to move forward. So, I did some preparation.
I learned who my fellow panelists were and was delighted by the mix. People I knew and some I didn’t were participating with me. I came up with a list of questions and topics to use. I was ready to go.
The time of the panel came and we all assembled. We were in the BIG room at the convention. A first for me. Sitting to my immediate right was none other than Tanya Huff who I think is particularly awesome.
So, I invite each of the panelists to do a brief introduction as to who they are and what they have written. Everyone did a fine job (including Tanya) and then it was my turn.
I don’t tend to script what I’m going to say preferring to “shoot from the hip” so I talked about my preparation for the panel and how I didn’t recognize any of the names. What I didn’t say specifically was, “I didn’t recognize any of the names in the panel write-up.”
Tanya Huff was the first to respond to that comment saying, “Well, thank you very much” as in, I didn’t know who she was.
She said it without pause and totally straight. The room loved it and we went on to have a fantastic discussion. A moment that will live in infamy (for me anyway).
Didn’t I say Tanya Huff was awesome! 🙂