Tuesday, March 17, 2015
For Your Own Good
I try to avoid public speaking as much as possible. When choosing classes for the semester, I try to choose classes without projects or presentations. I have managed to do this for over a year now, but school has a way of making you face your worst fear. It knows that communication is crucial to any job and life in general, and for your own good, school *makes* you take these communication classes. Apparently there is a length I won’t go to to avoid public speaking—dropping out of school.
Why do I hate public speaking so so so much? It’s because I don’t know what will happen when I get up in front of the classroom. No matter how much practice I put into a, the fact of the matter is, I can’t control every element of what will happen during the presentation. How will I react when I have so many eyes on me? What if someone asks me a question I don’t know? What if a freak tornado comes in the middle of the presentation and I end up having to present twice?!
Now, I know the last situation would probably never happen, but the other two were valid concerns that plagued my mind for the week leading up to journal club. When I get nervous, my heart starts beating, my hand starts shaking, and I tend to speak so fast that spaces in between words are pretty much nonexistent. To try to teach myself not to react in this way, I practiced in empty conference rooms, drawing smiley faces on paper and putting them on the chairs to simulate an actual audience. (Sad, I know, but it was necessary!) I practiced in front of my roommate to get a feel of presenting in front of an actual human being. I practiced anywhere I could, in front of anyone who would listen. I also read the article over and over again, each time thinking of questions I could possibly be asked and finding answers for those. Anything I didn’t understand I got it into my head that I would be asked that question. It’s easy to understand why we were assigned this project after looking at my annotated article. I learned so much, mostly out of paranoia, but I did learn.
All this preparation was put into a presentation that I don’t even remember much. I don’t know if my mind is just suppressing the memory, but I do remember feeling that I overthought this whole project. It wasn’t that bad to be up in front of the class. Maybe school has a method to its madness. Making us students take these classes forces us to overcome our fears. I’m not saying that I won’t get nervous next time I have to present, but it obviously won’t be as bad as this time. And if my pre-presentation jitters can decrease every time I give a presentation, maybe over time I’ll even welcome public speaking with open arms.