1. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England

    Doing a presentation

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by OurJud, Aug 11, 2016.

    As part of this English course I'm currently on, I have to take part in a discussion tomorrow with two members of staff, about a subject chosen by them. I then have to give a ten-minute presentation on a subject of my choosing, and I'm not looking forward to it.

    It's quite amazing, given my writing hobby, just how bad I am at articulating myself face to face. I forget the simplest of words, constantly uum and ahh, miss words out of sentences, struggle to maintain eye-contact, lose the ability to smile naturally, and generally look like someone sucking on a lemon the whole time the focus is on me.

    I also think the term 'presentation' is throwing me off kilter, because as far as I can understand I simply have to talk about a subject while the two staff listen (without any input). It's this lack of input that's giving me the butterflies and the thought of the two of them sat there listening with expectation doesn't give me a good feeling.

    I will of course be talking about my writing, but that doesn't make the prospect any less daunting.

    Any advice? And please spare me the 'imagine them on the toilet' cliche because it don't work.
     
  2. Spencer1990
    Online

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    Messages:
    934
    Likes Received:
    1,060
    Practice. Know ahead of time exactly the talking points you will hit. The key to confidence in public speaking is preparedness.
     
    matwoolf likes this.
  3. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    But isn't that like saying prepare for a bungee jump? It doesn't matter how much I prepare, I've still got to leap off the bloody bridge!

    I'm sure I could get out of it by claiming that being made to do this will trigger an anxiety attack, but too much of me knows that forcing myself to do this is the right thing to do.
     
  4. Spencer1990
    Online

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    Messages:
    934
    Likes Received:
    1,060
    I think of it like giving myself the best possible chance to succeed.

    Using your bungee jumping analogy, yes there is a certain bit of it that comes with the experience, but if you are going to jump off the bridge, wouldn't you rather have the highest possible degree of preparation prior to said jump?

    I'd be much more comfortable with the jump itself had I been to training courses, watched film, spoke to people who had done it, etc.
     
    OurJud likes this.
  5. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    Yeah, I wasn't trying to be flippant.

    I've been thinking about it, and all in all I think I'm going to do the mature thing and cry off.

    They can fail me, put me down as a 'refused to take part'... do whatever they need to do, but I'm going to tell them first thing tomorrow that I'm not doing the presentation. I'll do the discussion, but I simply cannot talk for ten minutes while two people just sit there and listen... regardless of the subject.
     
  6. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    5,305
    Location:
    California, US
    If you do it, I agree with the idea of practice. Also, make an effort to slow down - people tend to talk quickly when not used to giving talks. Also, when you want to say "um," full that space with a pause instead. Slowing down will minimize this.

    If necessary, have a pint before class :D
     
    OurJud likes this.
  7. matwoolf
    Offline

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,305
    Likes Received:
    2,235
    Location:
    Brighton Heights
    Write it down, then read it aloud, tonight, in the bathroom. Then re-read it to the both of them, tomorrow, nice & slowly with pauses, flourishes at the arm, and your funny face, of course.

    Don't have a pint, apols @Steerpike - have the drinks afterwards. Drinking takes away your edge and timing - opinion only. :)
     
    OurJud likes this.
  8. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    5,494
    Are you not allowed to read from notes?

    If you do decide to do it, would it help to make it very, very structured?

    For example, I could imagine talking about, "twenty garden vegetables", explaining how to plant them, one by one. I could use my existing garden as a mental reminder of which twenty vegetables, and I would know that I should be speaking for about thirty seconds per vegetable, so if there's a clock in sight I'd know whether to skim over some or add detail.

    The result would be pretty boring, but the structure and the fact that I'm talking about something that I'm totally familiar with would keep me from running dry.
     
    OurJud likes this.
  9. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    I can use notes, and the suggestions you give are exactly why I will be choosing to talk about my writing if I do it. Preparing a presentation on my writing that would last ten minutes isn't the problem - it's me delivering it.

    What annoys me about these things, is that when you tell them it's out of your comfort zone and that you're nervous, they just wave their arms dismissively and tell you it will be fine... as though this somehow magically alleviates all your worry. They have no idea how self-conscious doing something like this makes me feel. No one should be forced to feel like that.
     
  10. matwoolf
    Offline

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,305
    Likes Received:
    2,235
    Location:
    Brighton Heights
    Don't say 'comfort zone,' you will irritate the teachers.

    Take a cardboard box along to the classroom, leap from it wearing your red nose. Only then can you speak [think, actually] with any authority.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
    OurJud likes this.
  11. Sal Boxford
    Offline

    Sal Boxford Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    Messages:
    316
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    UK
    Please don't give up! I have to do presentations for my job - just infrequently enough that in ten years I never got used to it.

    When I gave presentations the world would go white, my ears would ring and I would lose control of my breathing and have to stop several times a minute and take a break. My audience was only ever fifteen or twenty people I'd known and worked with for years. Nice people. People I liked. Made no difference. I made it through one presentation and a colleague came up to me (trying to be nice) and said, 'God, I really felt for you.'

    Work sent me on several training courses, most of which were no help and one of which made me *much* worse. (They videoed us and made us watch it back. FFS.)

    Anyway, last year, all of a sudden, I stopped being scared. I don't really know why but the closest I've got to an answer is:

    1) I know that I know what I'm talking about - or I know more than my audience anyhow (and this about your writing, so you know more than your audience too)
    2) I use conversational language because I think trying to be formal is half of what scares me
    3) I've started adopting the attitude towards my audience of: 'You're a bunch of shit-for-brains wastes of space and I'm doing you a fucking favour by speaking to you. I'll stand here, I'll say this deeply fucking insightful shit, and then I'm going.'

    I get great feedback on my presentations now, so people clearly don't realise I'm looking at them like bugs it wasn't worth my time to squash.

    I'd say: spend the next few hours getting bolshy as hell about the fact you have to do this - not because you're scared but because it's beneath you. They're not naked or on the toilet, they're just inconsequential tossers.

    Whatever you decide to do, best of luck.
     
    jannert and OurJud like this.
  12. Sal Boxford
    Offline

    Sal Boxford Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    Messages:
    316
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    UK
    Yes to all of this. I once actually stamped my foot and said 'You can't make me!' in front of a roomful of people when my manager sprange a one minute presentation on me unannounced. And they thought I was being unresaonable.

    I maintain that it's a dumb way of conveying information and no-one should have to do it. Try to treat the entire ridiculous performance with the disdain it deserves.
     
  13. matwoolf
    Offline

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,305
    Likes Received:
    2,235
    Location:
    Brighton Heights
    I think presentations are fun :(
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  14. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    5,494
    That is irritating. They have to know that fear of public speaking is a huge, huge fear, essentially a phobia for some people. Telling you that you'll be fine is like telling a child who's afraid of a shot that they'll be fine. Yes, in the end they will be fine, but that doesn't change the fact that in the moment, it will be an upsetting and unpleasant experience.

    If their argument is, "It will be unpleasant, but it's a skill that we've decided, in designing the curriculum, that every student must master. We know that it is out of the comfort zone of many students. We're deliberately challenging that comfort zone." that seems less annoying. It's not a bit better in terms of you having to do it, but it at least doesn't deny your reality.

    I think.
     
    OurJud likes this.
  15. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    5,305
    Location:
    California, US
    In some disciplines it makes sense to consider it a skill. Exposure therapy in a classroom setting could help some people who are likely to have to give talks in their career.
     
    OurJud likes this.
  16. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    5,494
    Oh, I absolutely agree that it may be a necessary skill. I'm just saying that that fact doesn't shift reality to mean that it's no big deal to master that skill.

    (Not that you were necessarily addressing my remarks in any way. But I felt the urge to clarify anyway. :))
     
  17. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    You would! :)
     
  18. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    5,305
    Location:
    California, US
    Yes, I agree. I was absolutely mortified about the idea of public speaking when I was in my 20s. I had to take a class in it, but being in the sciences I didn't do a whole lot of it apart from teaching (and the first time I taught a class I was nervous as hell). For the first couple of years of having to speak in front of groups regularly, I'd take half a Xanax (0.25 mg) about half an hour before the talk. That helped tremendously. If one can avoid taking any such thing that is, of course, preferable. In my case, doing that for a little while made me comfortable enough with the whole idea that I was then able to speak in front of groups without taking anything. Now I'm just fine, provided that I'm prepared (and I tend to over-prepare). If I had to give a talk that I was completely unprepared for, I'm sure I'd be anxious as hell.

    But, yeah, I remembered hating it so much in college. Now I have to do a fair amount of it, so I'm glad I was forced to do it when I was younger.
     
  19. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    But I don't want or plan to pursue a career that will involve public speaking.
     
  20. matwoolf
    Offline

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,305
    Likes Received:
    2,235
    Location:
    Brighton Heights
    Jud's Presentation

    Good morning [and] how are you this fine morning? Please do not answer. I appreciate your jersey, sir, and you madam, your brassiere, blouse. Stand up, clear throat, twice

    The presentation is entitled [pause]

    My writing and Me....me...

    me - a man in many guises before your eyes..es, ha ha, [convulse, manic, sip water, continue]

    My writing is like a mountain.

    Each step, every hike in crampons through snow is a short story. A writer writes many short stories, outdoors on the mountain trail where the air is frosty, [exhale, blow, flap arms, and run on spot]

    It is after completion of a first draft, that the writer may finally rest, bivouac at a camp site in writing, relax [sit, drink more water, warm hands at imaginary fire]

    However...

    - that's 3 minutes in, I shall PM the rest, baby.
     
    OurJud and Spencer1990 like this.
  21. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,322
    Location:
    Scotland
    You, too, can run for President. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
    Sal Boxford likes this.
  22. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    To echo several others, practice. Go through it many times. If it helps, practice in the clothes you're planning on wearing that day. Also, be confident. That really shows the audience that you know what you're talking about. I'm going to assume they know less than you do about writing, so you have the upper hand here. Good luck!
     
    OurJud likes this.
  23. Sal Boxford
    Offline

    Sal Boxford Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    Messages:
    316
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    UK
    Maybe I will. I've got the best policies - really fantastic policies. For instance, I'm going to find the Bad People and make them Stop - that's a guarantee - you can trust me on that. I'm really good at policies. I'm the best at policies, in fact: everybody says so.
     
    Spencer1990 and jannert like this.
  24. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,322
    Location:
    Scotland
    Actually I like this approach. Turn fear into something else. I know when I used to stand up in front of people, no matter how well prepared I was, I used to forget what I was supposed to say. Notes were just scratches on paper, and didn't help. I could read them off, and then what?

    It got easier, but it's still not easy. And yet I have no problem speaking to a bunch of people informally. (Getting me to shut up is usually more of an issue!) It's the formality that got me, every time.

    For me, what sometimes worked was to pretend I was speaking only to one person. Maybe pick somebody out of the audience and pretend they're the only one in the room. Obviously you have to look elsewhere frequently, or they'll get squirmy and everybody else will get annoyed. But if I pretended only one person was listening to me (which might have actually been the case) it helped.
     
  25. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    Three Four things to know about presentations.

    1/ Tell them what you're going to say (I'm going to talk to you about my becoming a best-selling author in order to get me off benefits)
    2/ Say it (Writing is a skill that most of us are taught at school, and most of you will never master. I, on the other hand, have been blessed by nightly tutorials from all the greats; Shakespeare, Voltaire, Balzac, Dickens; I could go on, but I'm rather tired, that Madame Bovary can be so demanding...)
    2a/ Throw in a joke (Topical if you can. My personal preference would be one that sounds totally irrelevant, but which you can - after five minutes of waffle - demonstrate is relevant by saying "And the point is...")
    3/ Tell them what you've said (I've just been talking to you about my writing career. You can wake up now)

    Unless they forbid it, take notes in with you. Half-a-dozen cards, numbered so you can get them back in order if you drop them (in fact, you could do that as a time-filling prat-fall) and with just a short phrase to remind you of the idea, so that it doesn't take forever to read it, and so you don't stand there reading from the page without looking up.

    Good luck.
     
    OurJud likes this.

Share This Page