Have I mentioned that I hate public speaking?

Because I do. I really, really do.

For this internship, I’ve had to give four presentations, in front of rooms filled with people I don’t know that well, many of whom seem to delight in asking really hard questions. I guess it’s one of those sink or swim things. Even better, for three out of the four presentations, I had to go first out of my group since it was my responsibility to set up the background for the larger presentation.

So much anxiety.

I think the secret is acting. As in, acting like I’m not someone who is utterly terrified. It seems to be working for me. To the point that statements like, “You know, I wish I could answer that question but I can’t remember at the moment because I’m scared out of my mind,” get treated as laugh lines rather than a pathetic truth. Or maybe everyone just sympathizes.

Also, ostracods. Why can’t I remember your name when I’m actually trying to give a presentation, yet it comes popping back into my head the instant I sit down? This has happened all three times I’ve given this presentation. Enough is enough.

I’m grateful that at least I’m no longer paralyzed with vomit-inducing terror when it’s time to give a talk. I can fake being a normal human being who can communicate without looking like she’s about to get strapped into the electric chair.

I think Skepticamp’s helped me with this a lot, actually. It’s one of the few places I’ve ever willingly given a talk, and several times at that. Even if I am, as usual, absolutely terrified while I do it. Though I seem to mask my fear well enough with enthusiasm, from what I’ve heard. My desire to nerd out about something geology-related is apparently enough to get me over the pant-shitting prospect of a room full of people I don’t know who might ask me a question for which I have no answer.

Skepticamp is also where I cemented my bad presentation habit of just throwing slides on the screen and bullshitting at them. Everyone else in my team wrote exhaustive notes to themselves on their slides. I… don’t. Ever. I just make my slides, go through them a few times so I can remember the approximate order (even I know it’s a bad, bad thing to be surprised by your own slides), and then figure if I know the subject well enough, I’ll be able to talk through it just fine when the time comes. So far it’s worked out okay for me.

Except the damn ostracods.

Anyway, I’ve survived the intern forum, which means I’m home free! I have another two weeks at work, but no more presentations, thank goodness. I shouldn’t have to stare Powerpoint in its stinky, evil little eye again until it’s time for me to put together a presentation for my Masters thesis and AGU. (Ah, AGU. I will begin dreading you now so I can pace myself.)

At least there are no ostracods in the Bighorn Basin.


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