Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Something Has to Go Wrong

I knew going into Mod 2 that it was going to be rough. Mainly because I had to give a 10 minute long journal club presentation all by myself. Don't get me wrong, I love talking, but I hate presenting. I'm always self conscious about how I'm speaking, what information I'm delivering, if I'm making enough eye contact, if people are even listening to me. I also don't enjoy reading papers, especially biology papers. I get so lost in the acronyms and the common terminology that I don't know. So, needless to say, I was not looking forward to the journal club presentation.

I signed up for the first journal club day, even though I had a test the day before because I knew that it wouldn't be as packed as the second day. I made my presentation slides early, I made notecards, I practiced multiple times while timing myself, and I submitted my slides way in advance so I wouldn't have to worry about not getting to present in the order that I wanted to.

Of course, none of this helped on the day of the presentation.

I was so nervous that I was pacing around the room before I started. Generally, I like to let myself feel my emotions as it usually helps me identify the cause and get over them more easily. That was not the case for this. Of course I knew the cause of my anxiety. I was going to have to talk to a room full of my peers and professors, all of whom know much more biology than I do and probably already think I'm ridiculous for being in a bio lab when I'm a Course 2. Letting myself feel this anxiety only made it worse. I could see people around the room getting irritated with my pacing and whatnot, which also exacerbated the problem.

Eventually, I sat down and tried to breathe. I thought about all of the work that I had put into my presentation and how prepared I actually was. It worked a little.

Then, I got up to present. It wasn't awful. I was saying the things I wanted to say; I felt confident; it seemed like I was going at a reasonable pace. Just to be sure, I checked the timer and I was horrified at what I saw. I forgot to start the timer. Of all the things that could've gone wrong, this was probably the worst and the most unexpected.

I froze. I've given presentations with time limits before, but never such strict time minimums. But regardless of the time requirement, I now had no idea how long I had spoken for. I tripped up on my words while trying to think of a possible solution, some way to determine how much time I had left. There was none, so I just kept pushing through. I think the shock made me speak faster and distracted me, causing me to leave out some of the information. When I finally finished, I could tell that it was not the appropriate amount of time.

I tried to ask Leslie how much time I took, but she didn't want to tell me initially. That's when I knew it was bad. She eventually told me that I was under time by 1:30. That's not that much time, but relative to the length of the whole presentation, it was a lot. That was all that I could think about for the rest of the presentations. It made it difficult to focus on other people's presentations enough to ask intelligent questions.

When I finally watched my own presentation, I was fairly impressed with it. It appeared as though I did much better than I felt I was doing in the moment. When I got my grade and comments, there wasn't anything too unexpected. I did not do as well as I had hoped I would do, but I did much better than I thought I actually did.

In the end, I guess everything worked out okay. I hope to do better on the next presentation. Hopefully my lab partner will remember to start the timer.

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