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Thread: Presentations

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Clover's Avatar
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    Jan 2008

    Default Presentations

    So, I fail at academic presentations. It is absolute torture for me when a professor assigns something for me to research and then present to a group of people. Professors always say the same thing, "well, you'll have to do it sometime in your life, it's a good skill to have." Yes, there is the possibility that I might want to present something to a group of people someday, but I would hope if I felt compelled to speak to a group, I would know what I was talking about and it wouldn't be about some subject that was completely alien to me the day before. I am sure it's a good skill to develop, but I just BOMB when I have to speak in front of others, even the best laid speeches crumble when I try to give them. I can of course blame my lack of preparation, I am sure if I spent 3 days rehearsing I might be alright, but let me be honest and say I do not even think about starting up open office until the night before I must stand behind the podium.

    Anyway, how do you introverts get out of your head long enough to babble about subjects you could care less about? I ask introverts because I also think one of my issues is verbalizing my ideas. I can write and think of at least passable things to say, but when I get in front of people my mind goes blank and my mouth freezes. If only they would let me read what I have written, but professors constantly say, "don't read straight from your work, imagine if all I did was read from a projector!" Well, uhm, I am not a teacher, I don't have the extensive experience that you do. I haven't repeated my lectures over and over again for the past ten years, and I certainly didn't sign up for this class to do the job you were hired for.

    Any advice for an INFP just trying to sneak through college?

  2. #2
    insert random title here Array Randomnity's Avatar
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    May 2007
    6w5 sp/sx


    I feel your pain. Funny, I never believed teachers when they said it was necessary to learn (" as if I'm ever going to go into a career where I'll torture myself like that") but now I'm realizing that I'll most likely need to speak in public often and well if I want to do well in my chosen career. *sigh*

    I still hate it but I think I'm slowly getting marginally better with practice, and dreading it a little less as a result. It really does get a little easier each time.

    What helps me is

    1) being very very familiar with the subject (hard for a procrastinator like me)

    2) being interested in the subject, preferably it being my own work

    3) writing it out word for word. I know everyone tells you not to, but I'm just not confident enough in my verbal improvisation skills to wing it. I'm not very verbally eloquent one-on-one, let alone in front of a group where I'm panicking and shaking, so writing it out and practicing it that way lets me relax a bit more. As long as you don't sound like you're reading from an external script (speak slowly and with verbal inflection) that helps me at least. *don't actually bring your notes up with you unless you absolutely can't help it -they ruin everything, even if you don't plan to rely on them*

    4) if you have the option to use ppt slides, they really help you remember your place. shouldn't be read off of, of course, and shouldn't have much text on them - just to keep things straight. And practice while looking at them, of course.

    5) I know it's hard for a procrastinator, but I try to finish my slides + text of what I want to say at least 24 hours before, so I can sleep on it for a night or two and practice over a longer timespan (not necessarily more, just more spread out), while revising slightly what I want to say. Helps with remembering, and you feel a bit more prepared, too...

    good luck!
    -end of thread-

  3. #3
    it's a nuclear device Array antireconciler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    5w4 so


    Yeah, I'm pretty much seconding that.

    Even if preparation sucks, I find it super helpful to jot down a very short outline of the points I want to cover on a notecard, go someplace where I am alone, and just roll out what I want to talk about while pretending like there are people in front of me that I'm talking to. If I make a mistake, I'll keep going anyway and maybe joke about it as though I really were giving that speech. If your mind freezes up, it's okay to let your audience know, or to think out loud as you retrace what you were talking about. It keeps a lot of the pressure off of you which can close in around you if you were to fall silent.

    If you talk about what you're going to have to talk about, you also work out the kinks in your understanding of the topic. I kind of enjoy hearing myself talk, so it's reasonable to try to have some fun with your preparation. The faster you talk, the faster thoughts will come at you, and the less time you'll have to sort them out, and the more anxious you will feel, so speak slowly, especially if you momentarily lose your place. Rehearse it until you find yourself naturally giving the topic a treatment which you become comfortable with. Even if it's different every time, there may be a lot that is the same.

    Also, remember that people are actually pretty dumb, and hardly know how to form a good opinion about anything. They are a lot like monkeys, and I find it helpful to really picture that my audience is not much better than a collection of monkeys half paying attention half thinking about where they're going to go after you stop talking to have a banana, and all sorts of confusions are making them think confused things. Why should anyone hesitate before a bunch of monkeys? They should pay attention to YOU. You are the most important person in that room while you are talking, and everyone else is just there to listen, as befits their rank, as long as you please while you flirt with yourself and the ideas that you want to present. Tell yourself until you believe it that you are the one who deserves to be talking, and is most qualified to be talking. You know, and they do not, and what they think they know is monkey fodder. Even if that isn't true, I find it useful as an exercise. No one knows. No one is the authority. It's just monkeys.
    ~ a n t i r e c o n c i l e r
    What is death, dies.
    What is life, lives.

  4. #4
    ish red no longer *sad* Array nightning's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    Public speaking is actually one of the things you get better with practice. Funny how I'm very shy in front of strangers with the exception of being up there going through a well rehearsed presentation. I used to visibly shake standing in front of the class in high school. I'm much better now.

    It definitely helps to be well prepared prior to presenting. Rehearsal is the key to success. Go over the whole thing to yourself enough times to be completely familiar with every single slide. What comes before, what comes next. You don't need to memorize everything verbatim. Actually it's better if you don't. You come out sounding less stiff. For the first few rounds up there, if you're really nervous, it helps to have your exact speech written out in paper as a self reassurance thing. But if you've practiced enough, you wouldn't need it.

    Oh and no to a big stack of flashcards. Notes on a single piece of paper (no more than 3 pages if you must). STAPLED. People don't mind if you take a few seconds to turn the page over. They WILL mind if they see you flipping note cards every 10 seconds. Also cards are easy to drop. Bending to pick up and reorganize scattered cards is a sure fire way to be completely flustered.

    Also focus on the fact that people are there to listen about your topic... NOT YOU PERSONALLY! You're nothing more than the mouthpiece for presenting the content. I like to pretend that I'm acting on stage. A character there simply to help the audience understand the topic. Once you're diverted the focus onto the content, I find that you're less likely to be nervous. The pressure's shifted.

    More tips on presentation slides etc.
    In Response - Tips for presentation slide design
    In Response - Additional tips for presentations (What not to do) <- might not pertain to you at this point in time.
    My stuff (design & other junk) lives here:

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array 2XtremeENFP's Avatar
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    Jul 2008


    If only they would let me read what I have written, but professors constantly say, "don't read straight from your work, imagine if all I did was read from a projector!" Well, uhm, I am not a teacher, I don't have the extensive experience that you do. I haven't repeated my lectures over and over again for the past ten years, and I certainly didn't sign up for this class to do the job you were hired for.
    hahahaha such hatred!

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