Who Knew?

I’m getting around to this later than intended, for the simple reason that I forgot. In the immediate aftermath of San Diego Comic-Con, there was a lot to take care of, not least of which was a sense of exhaustion that meant that I was able to take care of the most immediate business on any given day for a week or so before settling down to simply feel tired and watch TV for the night. (On the plus side, I enjoyed both the Wham! documentary and the series about the background of American Gladiators, so it wasn’t a complete loss. At some point, I’m also going to sing the praises of the extraordinary second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, as well.)

Nevertheless, this year’s San Diego Comic-Con left me with the realization that I’m actually pretty good as a panel moderator, something that I’d never previously felt comfortable or confident enough to actually admit out loud. It was a strange and welcome realization, if one that I still feel uncomfortable sharing because of humility and being Scottish, and yet…

Don’t misunderstand; I’ve been moderating panels at conventions for years, and I knew I was that bad at it even before SDCC this year. The thing is, I’d convinced myself that I was good at doing a particular kind of panel — one that’s somewhat freewheeling and conversational — and that I’d suck doing anything more structured or official… and then I got asked to do two structured and official panels.

To my surprise, I didn’t suck at them. In fact, I actually… enjoyed doing both, even with the added complications of having official announcements to make at one (and giveaways to the audience that I had to declare, as well!) and slideshows and/or multimedia components at both. The two “other” panels, the ones that pushed me outside of my comfort zone, definitely required parts of my brain that I’m not so used to using when moderating — being more professional, less playful, sure, but also having to think about schedules and objectives in a way that was more akin to interviewing than moderating, for me — but I came away from both with that sense of, Did I do okay? I think that went well? Did that really go well? in somewhat mild disbelief.

I wasn’t entirely alone, at least in the sense of thinking things went well; both panels were complimented afterwards, with the publishers attached to each asking if I’d do it again at future conventions. It’s nice to know that you don’t screw up, for sure; it’s also nice to know that you can do more than you thought, and that you might actually be good at it, as well. If there was one good thing to take away from San Diego Comic-Con this year, I’m happy for it to be that.

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