So here’s something I didn’t want to focus on before I moderated a Q&A at the Museum of Vancouver this past weekend: I’ve never moderated a discussion like that before. I’ve presented on live television a trillion times. I lectured at one of Canada’s biggest universities for years. I’ve been on panels. I’ve spoken at events. I’ve given wedding speeches.
I’ve done many things you’d think would prepare me for something like this, but let me tell you: moderating a Q&A is a very different beast.
See, when you’re the one answering the questions, you’re already the subject matter expert (you’d hope). When you’re the one giving a presentation, you already have an idea of where you want to take things. When you’re giving a wedding speech, you just have to heckle the heck out of the bride.
But when you’re moderating a Q&A, chances are, you’re interviewing someone you just met a few minutes before you hit the stage. You don’t know what they’re going to want to talk about, you don’t know what they’d rather not delve into, you don’t know, frankly, how comfortable they’re going to be speaking in front of a live audience.
Since you don’t know where the discussion is going to go, you have to be prepared for it to go anywhere. Which means doing a lot of prep work. So, so much prep work; researching every public component of the interviewee’s life and career (and in my case, showing up with three pages of typed notes).
Thankfully, designer Evan Biddell and stylist Ellen Balsevich are both great interviews. Their collection, created for the 81lb. Challenge for Eco Fashion Week, is fascinating. And the message behind it — the average North American discards 81lb. of clothing and textiles in a year, making fashion the second-most polluting industry after oil — is powerful.
We talked about Evan launching his career on the first season of Project Runway Canada. We discussed the challenging parts of working in a creative field, we talked about Evan’s home/studio in Toronto’s Darling Mansion, and, because the event was part of Eco Fashion Week, we talked about the beauty — and significance — of upcycled clothing (while wearing coordinating upcycled outfits, no less).
It was fun. I learned a ton. And maybe at the next Q&A I moderate, I’ll only need to show up with two pages of notes.
Thanks for having me, Museum of Vancouver and Eco Fashion Week!
[Photos by Larissa Dundon — thanks for your help!]