Red asked me to give a talk in Ignite Manila 1 mainly because he remembered that I tend to break character once in a while back in our old workplace. It should be easy for me to give a presentation on something related to anime given my level of experience in the matter.
Problem is, even if I focused on just anime and manga instead of the entire Japanese hobby culture scene (which would include cosplay, collectibles, etc), I still have literally dozens of possible topics to talk about.
After thinking about it for a day, I went with the topic that I could say that I am really passionate about: the story of how we reversed the fortunes of UP AME; from being a hopeless anime organization into a thriving one. Not only is it a significant part of my life, the topic would also be relevant for most of the audience (I doubt that most of them aren’t inside a club or community of their own).
I put a decent amount of effort into this talk, not only because I don’t want to embarrass myself or the org, I also don’t want do look like a hypocrite after bashing the presentations in last year’s Y4IT.
Most of my effort went to the slides. It took me at least 3 days to finish them mainly because of my lack of experience (dammit, I’m a software engineer, not a graphic designer!) and because I had to look for good pictures from various sources. I also had to re-read Presentation Zen since it’s been a long time since I’ve made presentations.
Preparation for the talk itself was difficult, though it’s not as hard as the slides. I’d have to thank Scott Berkun for this part, his Confessions of a Public Speaker as well as his Ignite talk on giving Ignite talks gave me invaluable tips for making my talk.
One thing I learned on my own about Ignite was that Ignite presentations are more like song performances than presentations when you have more than 4 points to make. My talk had 7 different points so the timing is important. It didn’t worry me, though, since I have experience singing in front of a lot of people. I just had to practice enough that my mouth goes auto-pilot when on the stage, ignoring the inevitable effects of stage fright.
My script went through at least a dozen revisions throughout my practice sessions. With at least 3 runs per revision, I’m guessing that it took me 60 partial runs (just a 1-minute section) and about 30 full runs to get the hang of things. As you would see below, even with all this practice, I still had to ad-lib and adapt to the situation.
Oh and yeah, Ana Santos of Sex and Sensibilities talked before me. Talking about hardcore geeks after a talk on sex was kinda awkward. D:
Script, slides, and side comments below the cut.
Those of you who are into the local Japanese hobby culture scene, possibly the Go guys there, should be familiar with the University of the Philippines Anime Manga Enthusiasts, better known as UP AME. This university org is probably best known
[ “Org peeps holding the legendary tarp” picture from from Szusza’s CAL photoshoot album. The source was bad so I had to crop it to look good.
The Go shoutout was added at the last minute to add the impression that at least some people in the audience knows what anime and manga is. Mikong was also a former co-worker, and PGA had a booth AME no Jidai.
The slide transition in mid-sentence was intentional. If I waited for the transition, I would not have enough time in the next slide for pauses. ]
for pulling off events that are on-par (or even better) than anime conventions held by commercial companies.
However, the org’s situation wasn’t always this rosy.
Let’s go back ten years ago,
[ Pictures from UP AME DeviantArt gallery. I chose to crop or use teasers instead of the posters in cases where they would look better in the grid.
Multiple pauses in this slide. The timing is important because the next slide has a lot of spoken text. ]
when a local TV station turned Japanese cartoons, aka anime, into a fad. A small group of anime and manga fans decided it was a good time to start an org in UP. As expected, a lot of people signed up like myself.
[ Instead of having to add another attribution to copyrighted material, I just cropped Deng from the AME no Jidai poster and used a simple scanline effect.
Forgot to add the TV picture’s source to slide 20. Source is http://www.flickr.com/photos/pablo_perez/3256295059/.
As I said, this slide has a lot of spoken text. I need to define “anime” as well as introduce the org’s founding. In my practice sessions, the “like myself” often goes to the next slide.
The “people” were just simple ellipses and gradients. And yes, the number of people is not far from the actual membership size.]
After a semester of monthly meetings, it was apparent that there was a problem with the org. People were losing interest and just stopped showing up, founding members included.
[ Again, a pretty accurate rendition of the number of active members at that time. ]
At this point, the org’s days were pretty much numbered. It doesn’t take much to see that this geek community would have gone the same way as other similar geek communities that came before it.
And this brings us back to the topic of my talk:
[ Forgot where I got the clipart for the tombstone. Oh well.
The “back” part is ad-libbed because every talk is preceded by a slide containing the title of the talk. Had there not been a “slide 0”, I would’ve not said the word “back”.]
How did we save this dying geek community? What did we do to turn things around?
Looking back, what we did wasn’t really that complicated.
To start things off, we went beyond meetings and
[ Drought pic, as mentioned in the final slide, came from http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgiesharp/371472003/.
Mid sentence transition is important again here. The next few slides only allow 1-2 seconds as a margin of error. ]
actually started doing things. We had a week long merchandise booth, a lobby exhibit, and we even joined the Lantern Parade complete with our own float. This had a couple of side effects.
The merchandise booth pic is obviously not from 2001. I got it from Fra’s multiply album. I blurred it a bit to make it fit in with the pictures.
After a lot of experimentation, I found out that a seamless mosaic is the best way to create slides out of multiple pictures. The location of the text in this slide as well as the next two slides are also a result of trial and error. ]
First, the longer mingling time allowed people to bond with each other. And when people start to look forward to meet each other on a regular basis, they’re a lot less likely to leave.
The larger activities also acted as a filter:
it weeded out the slackers while it brought to light the passionate people, those who are willing to contribute their time, skills and talents for the org.
Now, when passionate people bond with each other
[ A combination of one of the first (lantern parade 2001) and the one of the most recent (AME no Jidai) large-scale activities of the org: working on the float, hosting (from Wigi/Triccie), painting haori (from Wil), and painting the org banner. ]
a community’s culture is formed. Culture is important, as a bad culture would eventually destroy an org. Fortunately for us, what we got was this “fun org” culture. The “fun” part’s easy,
[ Four slides, four important points. I have to elaborate what this slide means in the next two slides, though. ]
We’re an anime org. We do fun stuff like talking about stuff that would get us weird looks from most of you guys here. We also do other fun stuff like, say, wear costumes. But part of our culture is that
The “most of you guys here” is ad-libbed. Had there been more obvious geeks in the audience, that should have been “most people” instead.
It was only after I submitted these slides that I realized that there are more presidents here than in the next slide. Oh the irony. :P ]
we know when to draw the line and focus on the important org matters like planning for future events, managing finances, marketing, publicity, and so on. Not so obvious from an anime org, huh?
The “Not so obvious from an anime org, huh?” was ad-libbed. I sort of panicked when I realized that I was going too fast, around 4 seconds early. ]
And now we have this list. As you can see, there’s still one important thing missing. Those of you in communities should be able to figure this out. Any guesses?
[ The summary + rest slide. The pause at the end allows me 3-4 seconds of rest while the missing entry provides a small amount of unexpectedness to keep the tension/attention up.
Red and probably Frank guessed “Sex!” prompting me to answer “No, not sex!”. XD ]
Applicants. Remember, we’re college students, and regardless of what you’ve heard about UP, most of us actually graduate on time. Thus the need for a constant supply of new members.
[ Pic from 8th batch buddy bidding (from Krinkle).
The UP thing was one of the last things I added to the official script. Just a deadpan comedy attempt to loosen up the audience. ]
Recruitment isn’t that simple. though. We have to have a balance here too. We don’t want to scare away potential passionate members, just like these guys who are just fine with our unusual culture…
[ One Piece cosplay pic from buddy dress up (from Fra) ]
but we don’t want the really passionate people, those who could damage the org with their antics. Probably like these guys.
[ Pic from the interwebs.
I really screwed up in this slide. I don’t remember how much of the script I followed here. ]
And here we have this list. Follow these and your community will last for a while.
Before I end this talk, I’d like to share one last thing, what you might call the “secret sauce” behind UP AME’s successes.
[ Summary list. The “but wait there’s more” turned out to be a good idea as it’s hard for the audience to know if you’re at the 5 minute mark or the 4 minute mark. This allowed me to keep the attention up for a minute longer. ]
As an org, we know that the best way to grow would be to take risks, to push ourselves beyond our limits.
A good example would be Una kAME!, the first collegiate anime fair in the Philippines. At that time
[ Pic from AME no Jidai (from Wigi/Triccie).
Not-so-obscure anime reference here. ]
we had no money, no experience, and our venue wasn’t that good. But in the end it was still a resounding success, raising the bar for other anime conventions and was a significant stepping stone for our org.
[ Pics from UP AME’s photobucket account. Since the pics are all low-res, a mosaic with pictures of different sizes won’t work here. I had to make a collage that looks decent.
The “raising the bar for other anime conventions” was partially ad-libbed. During my practice sessions, saying only “success” and “stepping stone” was the reliable approach. Luckily, I was going too fast so I was able to fit that part in. ]
So whether you’re currently in a geek community or just planning to start one of your own, I hope this talk gave you a couple of ideas to think about.
Thank you for listening, and good night.
[ As Scott Berkun explained in his talk, the first and last slides are usually wasted, hence the “thank you” slide. ]