Like some librarians, I’m an introvert. Speaking to a room full of strangers is way out of my comfort zone. But I’ve spoken in front of strangers before so this is not a new thing. But I have a routine psychology freak out that I go through every time I have to give a presentation.
I was invited to speak at a conference next Friday in Annapolis about new digital initiatives at my job. It’s 30-minute presentation with 15 minutes at the end for questions. That’s a total of 45 minutes I’ll be in front of these strange people. I won’t be alone in front of these people, my boss will be there as well, giving part of the presentation. I’m excited about the topic I’ll be discussing and I know everything I want to say, but there’s always this underlying nervousness. The worst part of this conference…our presentation is last on the agenda, after lunch. I have all day to be nervous and butterflies in the stomach.
So here’s my pre-presentation predictable psych-out:
- I’m excited to give the presentation. I start thinking about what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it.
- I start forming my slides. I know what topics I want to cover.
- I get some graphics in the slides.
- Fear starts to creep in when it’s time to write my notes. What if people don’t like what I have to say? Suppose I don’t say it right? What if the presentation is boring as hell? What if, what if, what if…
- I practice giving my presentation to help calm my nerves to no avail.
The closer it gets to the presentation the more self-conscious, the less confident I become…until the morning of the presentation. And everything is all right. Oh I’m still nervous, I still get butterflies. But I’m calmer, more relaxed. And I wonder…why on earth did I put myself through all of that. And now I give my presentation and all is well.
Today, I’m at step four. I just finished writing my notes earlier today. I’ll go over them next week with my co-speaker. I’m sure I’ll do fine, but man the next 7 days are going to be wonky.