Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Presentation jitters

I had a brief research presentation this afternoon, and though I wasn't nervous about it ahead of time, I became nervous as soon as they handed the mike to me. It was a silly 3-minute teaser to entice people to come over to my poster, in front of departmental students and faculty, so the stakes were low as far as the nerve factor goes. But something triggered my inner jitter, and I was highly annoyed with the outcome, i.e. being outwardly nervous.

The thing is...I enjoy doing presentations, and most of the time they come off fluidly and fun. I'm not nervous and I'm able to say what I need to without using notes. Why is it, then, that every so often my voice starts quavering and I forget to breathe? It's a really brain-stumper.

Thinking back on the times when I've been nervous like this, the only common denominator is the audience. Specifically, if a good friend/loved one is in the audience, the stakes become really high. I know -- my bestest peeps should be the ones that make me less, not more, nervous. But for some reason the opposite is true. Maybe it's because I interact with these people in a non-presentation-y context, and so turning on the public-Rebecca feels really weird with them around. It's not as if I'm a different person...it's just the collision of two different facets of me that don't usually interact. Plus, I guess the stakes just are higher when someone's around whose opinion really matters to me. For instance, this time it was Ray. One of the last times it was Susie (remember Sooz, that breakfast event at the yacht club years ago?).

Anyway, I'm hoping that by realizing this about myself, I can mitigate it the next time I'm up in front of an audience...and remind myself that my favorite people are there to cheer me on, not create jitters.

1 comment:

dunsany said...

One of the best presentations I did was my "Spooky Slideshow" at the Surveillance inquiry. I had many reasons to be super-nervous: a big audience, an artistic presentation (I'd never done one before that) and a lot of attention focused on me for the event. I knocked it out of the park.

But when the lights came up, I realized that my mentor was in the audience. I wasn't sure he was going to show. If I had known he was there, I knew I'd have been reduced to a gibbering wreck.

Yah, so audience counts a lot. So next time, I'll stay home.