The other day, Eileen and I were absolutely thrilled to present Sexual Teasing and Denial at the inaugural über Skill Share Workshops hosted by the generous (and fabulous) Mistress Dee at her über dungeon and BDSM playspace. Eileen and I have done this presentation quite a few times before, once at TES-TNG, once at Conversio Virium, and once at the first-ever Floating World. I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that this time, the presentation was the best it’s ever been, with an uninterrupted nearly two-hour long talk that included wonderful questions from and discussion with the audience.

Earlier, I wrote that I think the Sydney BDSM scene is suffering from a lack of educational programming. I’m glad that I’m not the only one that thinks so. I’ve had numerous conversations with people in the scene here who would like to start seeing educational events becoming common place, and many Australians are eager and able to contribute. Especially noteworthy in this arena is Mistress 160, who runs what is probably the best informational blog about BDSM in the entire region, and has been doing so for quite a while.

Of course, the World Wide Web is probably the single greatest tool we as kinky people have in our efforts to educate each other and make information easily accessible. Bridging the gap between the online world and the physical world, however, isn’t easy. Ultimately, every Web site and cyberspace venue is really a support structure for meatspace venues and real-world events where people meet with other people face-to-face. That’s why I was so excited to be involved in helping to get the über Skill Share Workshops off to a roaring start.

Now, back in the United States, Eileen and I have done a few other presentations in the past in addition to this one on chastity, orgasm denial, and orgasm control. We’ve been in attendance at countless others, too.

Some of these presentations were really fantastic. At a minimum, these kinds of presentations always made me want to go straight home and pull Eileen into bed with me, or at least go out to dinner afterwards and have a long debate about whatever the topic of the presentation was.

Unfortunately, most of the time I didn’t really find presentations that engaging at all. In a few of the worst cases, I’ve literally fallen asleep. That’s right, I’m in a room full of people who are all talking about sex and BDSM and getting off and it’s been so boring that I’ve literally fallen asleep.

Over time, I’ve learned that there’s a distinct skill in teaching or speaking to others about what you know that’s entirely separate from just being good at that thing you’re talking about. So, in an effort to document some of those things that should probably be common-sense but clearly aren’t, here’s a list of things you can do to make your presentation for a BDSM educational event not suck.

Be enthusiastic

Chances are that if you’re presenting on anything at all you’re presenting on a topic of personal interest. Since this is supposedly something that really gets your rocks off, it should be easy to be animated and enthusiastic while presenting about it, right? Wrong! For a lot of people, it’s actually very difficult to feel comfortable and relaxed enough in front of a room full of people to let their genuine enthusiasm show. That’s okay, and this gets easier with practice.

That said, there’s nothing worse than listening to a monotone voice for an hour straight. Enthusiasm on behalf of the presenter begets enthusiasm on behalf of the audience. One of the best ways to loosen up and show some enthusiasm if you’re having a hard time of it is to tell personal stories. Share a short anecdote about a time at a club when you saw this amazing scene and how it made you all tingly. Don’t wax poetic about days long gone—stick to the topic at hand, but show some personality. Trust me, if you love what you’re talking about, your eyes will light right up.

Of course, the reverse holds true, as well. If you’re not actually excited about the topic you’re presenting on, why are you even presenting on it in the first place?

Prepare talking points, not a script

I think that in the entire history of the Universe, no one’s ever gone to an educational event just to listen to someone read aloud what they could have read themselves. If you have a handout, use it as a reference or as supplemental material, not as a script or the meat of your presentation. Chances are that by the time your presentation has started, everyone who received a handout has either finished reading it or has decided it’s not worth reading. If you just read what you’ve given them, you’re not going to have added any value to the presentation. You might as well have just emailed everybody your handout and stayed home.

That’s not to bash the usefulness of such things. Handouts can be wonderful reminders for people to take home with them so they can recall what you’ve said. They can serve as an outline of your presentation so that you can ensure you hit all the major points you wanted to hit. You can put together supplemental material in the form of a handout for people to peruse at their leisure, after the presentation. Just don’t obsolete yourself with it.

Don’t just demo, inform

Way too many presenters get caught up in the idea that their presentation is some kind of act, as if they are putting on some kind of show. If you’re at a fetish club and you’re doing some kind of BDSM performance art, then fine, you’re putting on a show. At educational events, however, this is like shooting yourself in the foot. Remember that you’re not there to show off, you’re there to inform people about a topic.

If you just spend the whole presentation playing with your demo bottom and not actually talking the audience through what you’re doing, you’ll be seen as an ego-centric opportunist who’s just interested in playing in front of a captive audience. On the other hand, if you actually walk the audience through the subject matter, both visually and verbally, you’ll be praised and heralded as an expert. And then you can go show off at the next party you’ve suddenly found yourself invited to.

Know your shit, but don’t be a know-it-all

Recognize that presenting on a topic is not the same thing as knowing that topic inside and out. That said, you’d be hard pressed to give an informative presentation if you don’t know your subject matter really well, so be certain you do. Spend some time talking to friends or people at parties about the subject you’re going to be presenting on so that you can get familiar with what other people might ask you about it. This also gives you the opportunity to practice explaining it to others.

Of course, if you’ve been asked to be a presenter, it usually means you’re seen as someone who knows a great deal about something specific—but not always. Presentations are sometimes just as much of a learning opportunity for the speaker as it is for the audience, and both parties can benefit from an arrangement such as this. When your fifteen minutes of fame arrive, don’t be a know-it-all. You never know when you might learn a thing or two that you can then add to your next presentation about the same topic.

All right, that’s quite a bit of advice. If I’ve missed anything, feel free to add your own input in the comments. :)

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