The deliberate fear of talking in front of people
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.
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.
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