Last week I had the infinite joy and pleasure of presenting my research at my university’s student colloquium. This was undoubtedly an invaluable experience, and also one that almost killed me. Now that I’ve had time to heal from this traumatic experience, I’d like to present some thoughts:
2. Thinking about this sweat just makes more sweat come out. While I don’t fully understand the mechanism behind this phenomenon, research is ongoing. I learned very quickly to not think about the sweat and then still thought about it anyway because I am dumb as a rock.
3. I simultaneously felt that I was the only person in the room and that everyone who has ever lived was in the room with me. Watching. Judging.
4. I didn’t notice anyone sleeping at the time, but heard afterwards that SOME PEOPLE may have dozed off; those people are no longer my friends and should stop reading at this point.
5. I didn’t understand what I was saying until after I had already said it.
6. My adviser has a nervous tick when watching his students present that looks like nodding so I interpreted it as encouragement that I was doing a good job but that actually wasn’t what it was at all but it helped me anyway so I stand by my original interpretation that it was in fact nodding.
7. Other people nodded for real but I ignored them because what do they know?
8. Presenting after somebody else is nerve-wracking because if they do a good job and you don’t, then you’ll forever be “that person who didn’t do a good job,” even if it would have looked like you’d done a good job if you’d presented alone, but because the other presenter gives the audience a framework of good quality, now the pressure is on you to match it - even though the framework is, at its core, completely arbitrary because our topics are different.
9. I do, in fact, know a few things about bumblebees (this was a relief to find out).
10. Strangely enough I enjoyed it, but still never want to do it ever again. Such is the duality of public speaking. It’s kind of like being on a boat in the middle of a huge storm, and you’re so close to shore, but then a huge wave comes and smashes your boat like it’s made of toothpicks, and you’re thrown from the now non-existent boat and end up careening down the face of the wave that seems bigger than the Earth itself on a tiny plank of wood, and by some miracle you don’t get smashed against rocks or thrashed by a kraken, but instead end up safely on the shore, and yeah you’re terrified and in shock but wasn’t that kind of fun too? Yeah, public speaking is exactly like that.
So, I guess overall, you could say I gained a lot from this experience. Since I’m sure this presentation was riveting for everyone in attendance, I’ll definitely televise the next one so the whole world can watch. Until then, goodbye.
Darren is a PhD student at Michigan State University studying the modulation of foraging behavior in bumblebees. Since 2015 he has written a blog, The Kingdom Has Come, focusing on many aspects of science (with an emphasis on animals) in a humorous light. In his spare time, Darren enjoys hiking, running, reading, and googling pictures of animals.