The deliberate fear of talking in front of people

Public speaking.

Why is everyone so afraid of it?

I’m not really afraid of it, but with the way it’s made out to be, it always seems like there is a lot of pressure and preparing. If I had to get up in front of my friends and give a talk about something or present on a topic I knew like the back of my hand, I would feel okay with that. I’m alright being the centre of attention, but usually if it’s more like a conversation and people are making comments or asking questions.

I don’t know how to make a presentation like that. Yet.

The last presentations I remember doing were in university, when I chose to just wing it and at one point prepared slides for a presentation fifteen minutes before I was due to present. I aced the subject, let’s just say that.

I don’t like to think that because of that, it’s just a stroke of luck that I’m probably good at public speaking – but I think that anyway. Which is terribly ruthless, if you ask me.

Today I did a presentation at work about microdata.

(I’m a much better writer than I am a speaker, so you can certainly expect a blog post about that at some point.)

I loved the topic I was presenting on. I filled my slides with too much text. I had technical issues because I was too scared to mirror displays and have my laptop screen reflect the presentation screen, because the caveat was that I would not have my presenter notes visible on my laptop when I returned to my slides.

I should have faced the fear. I was afraid of being judged because I was the ‘new girl’, at the same time really wanting to make a good impression. I got some really good advice from my peers, and I also got constructive criticism. I had some people tell me they thought my talk was really cool, and others saying there was too much waffle at the beginning. Most people said I did well, and no one complained about my many references to Pink Floyd. Everyone was very supportive.

Presenting my talk on microdata.
Presenting my talk on microdata. Photo by Jules

No one seemed to mind the technical issues – I suppose it added to the entertainment – but that was what I was probably most embarrassed about.

We let ourselves worry far more than we need to.

I have a presentation next week at SydCSS (yes, I was trying to hide it from everyone), and another one at Girl Geeks. The latter will be about blogging, and I have no doubt that it will come naturally, so I’ll try not to pollute my slides with text, and I’ll try to practice with short cues instead of memorising a whole speech.

I’m not sure why the sudden jump into public speaking, but the more I do it, the less it will fill me with dread. I used to think that the underlying reason was because I wanted to ‘get myself out there’. But now I think I’m really doing it because I want to inspire people, help them, and teach them something new.

PS. I have made a newsletter called glass fields, I’m experimenting with something new, so feel free to subscribe.

Comments on this post

Woo! I’m so proud of you!

Don’t worry about the technical issues you had. It happens to everyone.

I’ve always hated public speaking, but some day I would love to do a presentation like this. I was asked, back in the summer, to speak about coding websites to a bunch of bloggers but the organiser never got back to me. I felt both relieved and saddened, but ever since then the idea of talking to bloggers about coding has been on my mind. Holly for hire!

I hope your presentations for SydCSS and Girl Geeks go well! (That just reminded me, I want to get involved with my local Girl Geeks group. ;) )

I hope that you get an opportunity to speak some time! If there isn’t something similar at the company you work for, consider initiating it – a lot of companies I’ve worked for have done some kind of ‘brown bag’ or ‘town hall’ where someone does some sort of presentation. It is a great way for people in the company to learn from other departments they are not familiar with.

I’m sure many of us have had minor flubs during our presentations. I had to face technical difficulties and actually try to fix things on the whim on a time constraint. I’ve made plenty of presentations already throughout my academic career, but the biggest presentation I’m going to make is next week. YIKES! It’s nerve-wracking if you realize you are presenting to 200 people regarding your research.

Exclamation points everywhere! I hope your presentation went well, Kristine!

Good on you Georgie for taking the leap and just going for it. The more you keep presenting, the more comfortable you’ll become. I made a similar decision last year to staring presenting and haven’t looked back. I’m doing it for the same reasons as you. :-)

I always admire those who can do public speaking flawlessly. For some reason, I always turn foreign (even though I’m not) when I do speeches. I think it’s because I’m not that prepared for my talks.

It’s good that you’re good at public speaking! Nothing wrong with that ;). Even though there were technical issues, it wasn’t from your end. It’s a plus that you got some good remarks. I do notice the shade of blue matches your site a bit ;).

Good luck with your presentations! I’m sure you’ll do well. Your topic about blogging should be a piece of cake considering how Pr0 you are!

I have that similar kind of fear, but it’s different for me. I don’t fear speaking in front of us, I just have bad anxiety with people in general. I’m learning now to get over that anxiety and be a better presenter, because I have to do it for Bio lab. BOOOO but I know I can do it!

It’s not easy conquering the fear of speaking in public, but it’s worth knowing that you don’t let fear consume or get to you always. <3

It’s great that it’s not a big deal for you to get out there and speak. You have solid opinions that you want to share, have a lot of knowledge about different subjects and I believe that you have the type of personality that people want to hear, because you are interesting. I hope that the more you do, the more confident you are with them and the more opportunities that come your way. :D

“Keeps the nerds happy” ahahaha

I signed up for the newsletter. :D

I am so proud of you Georgie! Presenting is always so hard and makes anyone quite nervous. I actually love public speaking, I enjoy presentations! It might be because I used to do a lot of theatre plays at school, I just like having eyes on me sometimes especially when I’m talking. Earlier last year we had a mini-project group at university which was just presentations about a certain disease. I really did enjoy the project and got compliments on my ability to present in front of people. I have to say though, when I do get nervous I tend to waffle but so does everybody, right? You can only move forward from this and work with the feedback that you have! I’m so proud of you!!

Thank you Pauline! You sound like you have a knack for presenting and performing in front of people! I think I just have to get used to it. I have performed in front of a lot of people (dancing and playing piano and guitar), but I think I’ll get better (and more comfortable) with practice.