Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Module 1: Baby's First ... Presentation?

Can You Slow Down?
Besides easily getting stir-crazy and being a potential-research-hater, I also have the unfortunate trait of being a very fast talker. I started to slow down in 8th grade when I started actually talking to people in the first place and people said they couldn't keep up with me, but I'm still told to this day that I talk really quickly. This usually does not cause any problems, however... public speaking.

Baby's First Speech 
I literally never had to present anything or give a speech that was worth more than participation points or that has any another sort of consequence until my senior year. So when I read that to accept a scholarship, I may need to give a speech at a conference in California, I immediately wondered if I could pretend that I couldn't fly out and attend the conference because I was being affected by the tornado season. (I'm from Oklahoma.)

Unfortunately, my sense of responsibility disallowed that option. (Retrospectively, I realize I probably could have just written a bad speech and not have been selected to speak.) I only found out that I was selected to speak when I already got to California. Worse yet, I found out when I got there that this speech was in front of 400 people!!! Reminder: I've never actually had to confront my public speaking fear before ever.

I wrote and memorized my speech before I arrived in California, but the speech was not to be delivered until the last day of a 3 day conference. I felt queasy and nauseous during the entire conference, even though most of the days were spent making friends with the other recipients and even going to an amusement park! The day of my speech, which was part of a luncheon with many other speakers, I literally could not touch my food. I was shaking and I wanted to run away. My table and fellow scholarship recipients actually thought I did run away when I stepped out to use the restroom and had the back up speaker ready!

Anyways, I gave the speech. I talked really fast despite trying not to. On one hand, I was able to eat my food afterwards, which is important since I pass out if I skip meals, but on the other hand, my fear of public speaking did not decrease one bit from the experience. I opted out on giving my graduation speech, which would have been to over 1100 graduating seniors and their families; enough to fill a local college's basketball stadium.

Baby's First Presentation
So one would suspect that a presentation would be easier for me then, as they are broken up into sections and have visual cues. One would be mistaken. Presenting my story, which is apparently very unique, has a very different purpose than presenting a research paper. Especially when one of them is for a grade.

For some reason, I've actually really enjoyed making schematics and graphics for our 20.109 assignments, so making the presentation was fine. But practicing made me more and more nervous every time. I could simply not get a consistent presentation time, getting anywhere from 8.5 minutes to 10.5 minutes. I thought I finally had it when I got 2 practices that were around 10 minutes! However, during the actual presentation, I'm pretty sure I still talked too fast (I've blanked the experience from my memory, although I acknowledge that it will be revived when I meet with Atissa), as my presentation ran too short at I believe 9 minutes, 7 seconds.

The nerves leading up to my presentation were the same as for my first speech. I wasn't shaking as much since I knew we all had to present, but I still had trouble eating and I could actually feel my heart pounding. I suspect that it was these nerves that completely caused my brain to short-circuit a few times, causing me to leave out details that were not on the slides, and thus making my presentation shorter in addition to talking too fast. I also vaguely recall becoming really frazzled and using really colloquial language in order to get the audience to laugh which in retrospect probably wasn't desirable.

Even though I know I messed up, I was really glad when it was over! I'm scared to meet with Atissa, but super relieved at the moment nonetheless!

So You Feel Better Now That You've Given Speeches & Presented, Right?
Unfortunately not. :(

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