BETWEEN THE PAGES: FINDING MY VOICE – Speaking on Popular Culture

Welcome to the limited series return of BETWEEN THE PAGES, running Mondays and Wednesdays now through mid-December 2020! Dubbed BETWEEN THE PAGES: FINDING MY VOICE, follow Shannon’s journey as she learned and grew to become more of a public speaker, and how she’s still learning today! Today is Installment 10,  “Speaking on Popular Culture”.

As mentioned in the prior installment, my instructor suggested I attend the Popular Culture Association conference held in San Diego in 2005. It was at the San Diego Marriott – which I knew well from attending Comic-Con International: San Diego – but I was all alone by myself for the first time. Being quite the shy person, I have difficulty networking.

The most surreal experience was attending another panel at the same conference. I can no longer recall the panel’s actual title, but it focused on online fan communities. At one point, the two presenters start talking about a particular Yahoo!Group founded by two sisters, focused on a specific animated series, and how it brought people from all varied walks of life together under a common interest. This particular group was of interest to the researchers since it began as an email lists in the 1990s and was still going strong in 2005.

The animated show in question was JEM.

The sisters being referred to were my younger sister (who did the lion’s share of the work on it) and myself (my main connection came from actually building a correspondence with the show’s developer since I was teenager, and her having evolved into a mentor for me).

I’m still at a loss for words what it’s like to sit through a presentation and constantly be talked about right in front of your face, and no one knows it. They didn’t say anything negative. However, by the end, I did feel obligated to reveal myself, answer some of the questions they had admitted they couldn’t answer research alone, and thank them for their presentation.

In a way, I felt like I hijacked it by taking everyone’s attention away from them and on to myself – but the alternative would have to have been dishonest and never told the audience, and that isn’t in my character.

I completed my MA in Communications in August of 2005, juggling being a Production Coordinator on my first preschool series – MAKE WAY FOR NODDY in the PBS half hour format – while finishing up my thesis on whether animated or live-action spokespeople proved to be more effective in public service announcements called “Getting the Animated Message”. I have actually found my thesis cited in two papers, one from 2012 in Taiwan called “A Development of 2D Cartoon Animation to Safe Driving Promotion A case study Mahasarakham University,” and also “Development Thai Sign Language Multimedia for Students with Hearing Impairments in the North Eastern,” from the same Thailand university in 2015.

Next time, I’ll talk about my move from academia to writing textbooks, and I how I found myself back on the speaking  trail for marketing and promotion.

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