I generally hate presenting anything to anyone. So, I wrote and read a poem with two friends in front of 1600 highly expectant people during a very important ceremony (hence the 1600 potatoes above which I now realize is a terrible metaphor). Those are two sentences that definitely go together…
The poem I read was a simple reflection on the memories we had made in middle school and my friends and I presented it in front of our 300 classmates and their family and friends during the ceremony for our 8th grade promotion. Here’s an excerpt:
In this incredible year
One of the biggest moments is here
We’ve shared laughter and tears
And dreams and fears
But most of all memories,
from jokes to skits to songs
and random moments and dissected frogs
The funny thing is…it was more terrifying trying out/”auditioning” to participate in the ceremony and figuring out how to write and word the poem, than it was to present it. The three of us spent more time freaking out about forgetting important memories or struggling to get the wording just right than when we were literally walking up to the podium in front of 1600 people.
Anyways, there was probably about 2-4 weeks between trying out and getting accepted until the last day of school when we presented it at the ceremony. That short amount of time felt like an eternity but as each day passed, it suddenly seemed as though time was flying by. In fact, I remember Skype-ing or Facetime-ing my friend at 11:30 pm because all of a sudden it hit me what terrifying act I was going to perform on the rapidly approaching big day and how much we still needed to practice.
One of my biggest pet peeves is probably being prepared. I like to know exactly what’s going to happen and how I should be prepared to respond. I can literally spend hours rehearsing, making sure I know exactly the order of events, and researching any additional info I need to know before I do anything. The problem with this habit is that despite how hard I try, something always seems to go wrong. In fact I can’t even remember a presentation where everything went exactly as planned without a detail left out or astray. This issue isn’t helped by the fact that if anything disrupts my plans, it completely throws me off and I have a much harder time adapting and readjusting.
To this day, I still can’t figure out why a smaller more familiar group of people is more difficult to present to than a massive one. Even if the much larger group still contains those belonging to the smaller one, why does it feel less stressful to share my work with a larger group than that of a smaller one? I wonder if it is because you are more likely to come across those who are more familiar to you especially when the presentation experience is more personal and direct than when it is somewhat of an announcement to a large crowd opposed to a discussion.
This could be one of my own irrational fears but sharing my work with a more personal group seems to make me more self-conscience. I suppose it is likely the fear of embarrassment or making a mistake that might be remembered after the presentation has ended. It could also be the fear of your ideas not being accepted or even opposed by others.
Either way, I don’t necessarily see myself as one with valuable advice about presenting but here are a few tips that you can decide whether they are helpful or not; pee before you present-do not do the potty dance in front of your audience, prepare-at least know what you are presenting, and practice-not everything in your head sounds as smart out loud.