Becoming a Cosplay Panelist
So you want to talk about something you love and captivate audiences with your knowledge? Well, I got some tips for you, and I wanna help you be the best panelist you can be, so that more people will show up, stay, and be attentive. I've been running panels for the past couple years, and I love being able to talk to convention goers for an hour. Strap in, and get ready to be educated!
PICKING YOUR SUBJECT: You'll want something that you are passionate about. Something that stirs interest with others, and can be entertaining. I specifically have a couple of panels I do, and collaborate with, including: Cosplay Organizing, and Posing, which I had great success with Renchan of Curvy Kitty Cosplay at Anime St. Louis this past May. When you pick your subject to talk about, make sure it can be something that you can talk about extensively for at least 40-45 minutes. If you can't do that, you might want to choose something else.
RESEARCH: Once you've picked your subject, do as much research as you possibly can. Especially if you are doing trivia, you'll want to have a TON to talk about. I went to one panel on Love Live trivia, and this guy spent 30 minutes just talking about the bands and series they were a part of, and was barely able to touch up on their music and such. It was super impressive to watch this man go on about a video game and anime for 50 minutes.
MAKE A PRESENTATION: You can always make a Power point, but did you know that you can make a super amazing presentation using the website Prezi? Most of their features are free, but if you are constantly making presentations (For school, work, etc) it's helpful to pay for some of the features. Renchan turned me on to this site, and I am so heckin excited to up my presentation game. Spend time organizing it til it looks perfect. If you'd like to see the presentation: https://prezi.com/3lg17dkvcoge/the-posing-panel/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE: Practice your presentation. In front of yourself, in front of the mirror, kidnap your friends and make them watch and give you notes for how you sound, your eye contact, and your pacing. It is nerve-wracking to public speak, but you got this, and no one expects you to be an expert at talking to a group of people. If you are doing an in-character panel, get your panelists together and have a couple meet ups so that everyone knows what to be expected of them.
INVOLVE YOUR AUDIENCE: Your audience is more likely to stay if you involve them a little more. Opening up a Q&A at the end, putting in questions during your presentation, or even games with little prizes get them involved and excited! I was actually pleasantly surprised at how receptive people were when we hosted the Posing Panel, and there were plenty of people that wanted to be a part of our interactive posing tutorial. We got a couple of cosplayers up to the front and helped them pose to make their bodies more photogenic and 3D, rather than really flat.
REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR SUPPLIES: Make a list of things you'll need for your panel (i.e. Computer, cables, batteries, prizes, papers that may have notes, etc) and double check before you leave your house/hotel/etc to make sure you aren't forgetting anything. Conscript a friend to help if you need it. Tolia will forever be my pack mule because I always pack too much just to be cautious. Try to bring water so that your throat doesn't dry out, if the convention center doesn't provide water. Avoid soda, so that you don't have any embarrassing burps. And finally, have fun with it! You're going to do great!