Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Seanisms" and Blogs

From Joyce I learned to have what Gladys at toastmasters calls a "Seanism." ...

Nestled in the Canadian Rockies is Canada's Banff Centre for The Arts, a world-class summer school. There I once watched a dance class. The students, from all across Canada, were learning to do the move where people hurry across a room spinning as they go. "Hey, like on fame!" they said, referring to an opening credits scene of the old TV series. The trick is to pick a spot on the wall. Some of them veered off because they didn't keep focusing during every spin.

I was able to observe because I was visiting their instructor, my old college teacher, Joyce Grey. From her I had taken drama classes, and I had managed to get into her demanding Creative Movement class for theatre majors. Drama relates to movement because a drama class is not an acting class, and it requires no work on stage. Rather, drama is preparative growth, a no-audience Zen thing, which every actor takes. Joyce noted we students were learning to have "energy" and "concentration." Students begin the drama semester with doing nonverbal movement. An advanced drama class, I suppose, could include theatre sports, as on the recent Hollywood TV show, "Who's line is it anyway?" with Drew Carey.

The students in my classes, both drama and movement, frequently presented "movement studies," usually in teams. Immediately Joyce would criticize. She always began with, "That was good," or "Nice study" or something like that. I think Joyce saw her students as youthfully vulnerable. After presenting their team study they would be in terrible suspense— "Did we do OK?" A quick "That was fine" allows them to exhale and then follow the rest of the criticism.

Since graduation, down to the present day, my favorite method of giving criticism, for manuscripts and work meetings, is to cover three things: what worked, what didn't work, and how it could be better. For giving evaluations where people are more vulnerable, such as for public speaking, I might vary it by using the three things of the "sandwich technique": good stuff, bad stuff, and then good stuff.

Speech evaluations are an integral part of Toastmasters International, where for every speech there is an evaluator. But after the speech, and before the evaluation, we have a minute of silence. That's when members fill out their own special little mini-evaluation for the speaker, using a special little slip of paper. We call it a "love note." Remembering Joyce, I always start out writing "Nice speech" ... Even if I don't have anything else to say.

One day a fellow toastmaster, Gladys Sabayan, pointed out to the club that she had come to expect the "Seanism" of "nice speech" on her notes. I was pleasantly surprised— this reminded me that everything we do in life gets noticed, on some level.

Now I am wondering if my blog is being noticed. I'm not waiting to exhale, not when I'm a seasoned middle aged writer, but still, a simple "nice essay" comment would do me good.

Sean Crawford

~Reminder: By clicking through "older posts" (at the bottom) you can find new essays not found on my old web site.

~Although it's totally and absolutely ignored in terms of comments, (sigh!) a popular related essay of mine, based on the monthly number of hits, (clicks) is Criticism and Professionals from March of 2010.

~Update: in my "taking stock" post of June 2013 I noted that blogs are fading in popularity—I expect no comments, I write for my own purposes.