I've lectured before, to groups of about 120-150, but this was the first time I faced the whole JC2 cohort, all 700+ of them. Did I really have anything to say that could hold their attention for 40 minutes or so? It was something I've been fretting over the past week, imagining a scenario where I'd be holding a wireless mike in one hand and a can of mace (or a fire extinguisher) in the other to maintain crowd control.
The initial technical problems didn't help ease my nerves, but I finally had my sound and visuals by the second reboot while the crowd murmured around me, anxious to see some action at least for their trouble of hustling to the hall.
But I've been selling my audience short. When we got started, they did rather seem politely interested. It wasn't exactly rapt attention, but it wasn't the riot I'd been fearing either.
A couple of things that most likely worked in my favour: I held a wireless mike and walked in the midst of my audience, randomly shooting off a question, shoving the mike at a convenient face and expecting a response. No one really wanted to attract my attention and my mike, so there were no outstanding individuals in the crowd. The other thing was to constantly vary the sensory input, letting a few short video clips take up about half my time while I spent the rest stitching together a plausible narrative linking the clips together along with the other media (news clippings and websites) I used in my show-and-tell.
I think overall it went well, though I haven't heard the reviews yet. Anyway, the ordeal's over -- for now. And the root beer did wonders for my mood.