Things I Hate #3: Giving Presentations
In this recurring blog, I will point out a certain thing I hate from society, or just everyday life.Some of them might be common pet peeves, some might not. I will, however, always try to justify why I hate that particular thing. There are no real boundaries as to what it the topic is. The only one rule: I have to hate it. Don’t agree with me? Leave a comment saying why I’m wrong.
My palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. There’s vomit on my sweater already, mom’s spaghetti. I’m nervous, but on the surface I look calm and ready to drop bombs, but I keep on forgetting what I wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud. I open my mouth, but the words won’t come out. I’m choking how, everybody’s joking now. The clock’s run out, time’s up, over, bloah! Yes. These are not my words, they’re Eminem’s, but they accurately describe my emotions and actions while standing in front of the classroom, ‘ready’ to give a presentation.
It’s not that I’m afraid. It’s not that I don’t know what to say. It’s just that there’s a blockade in my brain which prevents me from uttering the words that my brain provides. I can’t present the information that’s in my head to the audience in a way that makes sense.
I usually write a script. If I read directly from that script, all goes well. However, the presentations I need to give as a requirement for my classes prohibit me from reading this script directly. A possible solution are cue cards, but this is a tried and failed option. Instead of giving the underlying context to the summary presented on these cards, I just read out the cards, meaning that the presentation will be over in five minutes.
Using the script as a back-up is no solution as well. I always get lost in where I’m currently at in the script, making me choose a random point in the script to pick up from. Needless to say, I omit lots of vital information this way. It also looks quite stupid, me turning pages for 20 seconds trying to decide from what point to start. Also, this is often prohibited as well.
Another option is to try to improvise, which brings me to today. I had a script written hastily, but after the first sentence of the script, I realised I wasn’t going to use the script, instead choosing to improvise on the spot. I have a fairly good grip on the subject at hand, and I knew what I wanted to say. So what could go wrong? A lot, so it seems. Instead of the required 15 minutes, I was done in 8 minutes. I had left a lot of subjects untouched, which resulted in many questions afterwards. The 8 minutes of presenting was followed by 30 minutes of questioning. And I’m not good at coming up with consistent answers on the spot. I’m that kind of guy who knows what to have said five minutes after having said something stupid.
On the plus-side; I do make killer power points. Case in point, the Powerpoint (in Dutch) I used this morning. Ever since I was in high school, I have never heard anything but positive comments on both design and content.