Sunday, October 7, 2012


One of the things that terrifies me most in this world is giving presentations. I can't pinpoint what it is that makes me so nervous... other than everything.
I'm just positive I'll forget my presentation, even though I've emailed it to myself, saved it on a flash drive, and brought my laptop with me.
I know I'll stumble over historical figures' names (you try pronouncing Eugen Bleuler's name correctly) and look like an ignoramus in front of my colleagues.
It's obvious to everyone that my face is redder than a tomato, and now my neck is getting all splotchy...
My professor must know I keep checking the clock to stay within my time limit.
My project partner is much more natural at this, so I look like a fumbling, bumbling idiot.
See what I mean?
One of the greatest experiences of my college career was serving as a Peer Mentor, a delegate for the Office of First-Year Experience at Longwood. The first year I served, I was a junior with a class of 10 very disinterested College of Business and Economics students (about which I know zip). I co-taught the class with the Vice President for Student Affairs -- yowza! The second year I served, I landed one of two coveted spots in the Psychology department working alongside two of the most influential professors I've ever had. I had the responsibility of co-teaching and managing 15 half-interested Psychology majors with smart-ass attitudes. It wasn't my first rodeo, and I had a better handle on how to "deal" with freshmen.
Out of these experiences, I gained a sense of competence in public speaking. I learned how to carry myself in order to project confidence, even when I'm drop-dead nervous. I learned how to practice until I was blue in the face so as to rely less on notes. I learned how to be present with my audience instead of focusing on the next thing to say or do. Above all, I learned that nobody gives a perfect presentation, and that with time and experience comes the feeling of less anxiety with each presentation.
(Between you and me, I think I'd rather address board rooms of disgruntled CEOs for the rest of my life than a classroom of gum-snapping, eye-rolling, half-asleep, pissed-off college freshmen who have better places to be.)
During my first year of grad school, one of my classmates introduced me to the magical presentation world of Prezi, which one of my current professors refers to as "PowerPoint on crack." In case you're not familiar with Prezi, it's a website you can use collaboratively to design presentations that are more naturally animated. Prezi allows you to add movement to a presentation without it looking goofy or overdone. Trust me, I am not a tech-savvy lady (I don't know whether I've ever emphasized mentioned that before...) and even I can use this site!

Prezi has been a real life-saver, as my project partners as I have increasingly conflicting schedules and busier lives. We can't always set aside time to work together physically, but that's the beauty of Prezi. I can add my assigned components, save the Prezi, and check in on things online as my partners add their components from different locations. Neat, huh?

I'm not saying I'll ever be good at public speaking or giving presentations, but with neat little tips and tricks like Prezi, I'm well on my way to feeling less like fainting each time ;)

P.S. Do you like public speaking? If so, do you have any pointers?!

No comments: