Presentations scare me

microphone with blurred image of seats in the distance

Having social anxiety, there’s nothing scarier than standing in front of your class and trying to string a sentence or two together.

It’s even worse when you have to conduct a whole 1-hour seminar between you and your groupmates. Those American movies about college I grew up watching did not prepare me for this moment – uni was all about finding your one true love (who so happens to be in a frat house) and confronting the very high school bully-esque popular girls at a party, right?

But alas, there I was, standing in front of the whiteboard in Ligertwood’s quaint lecture room 231. I squinted as the lights from the projectors blinded me. In an attempt to distract myself and calm my nerves, I fiddled with the computer and took swigs of aqua every 5 minutes.

The funny thing is this wasn’t even my first time talking in front of an audience. I’ve done it ever since I was in primary school (not to brag, but I represented my school in a story-telling competition once). I even did mooting which was arguably even more nerve-wracking than leading a seminar, especially when the judges start questioning your arguments and suddenly your brain is as empty as the Sahara Desert and your papers are all out of order.

And yet, it doesn’t get any easier. It’s probably gotten worse now because I start panicking even at the mention of a presentation. Is it the thought of messing up that scares me? Probably, but everyone makes mistakes. Is it the thought of being ridiculed for messing up that actually spooks me? Yeah, maybe that’s it. Though I have been fortunate enough to have those scary thoughts live only in my head. I’ve bombed my mooting practice before and no one laughed at me; I've tripped over my words when answering a question in class and yet, not a single snicker was heard.

So I suppose my anxiety has been the one who's kept on telling me that I’ll mess it up and make a fool out of myself in front of my classmates. It takes time to get rid of that tiny doubtful voice in your head. I’m not 100% there yet but I sure am trying.

It was 3:10 pm and it was time for us to start the seminar. One by one my groupmates presented their part and before I knew it, it was my turn. I, surprisingly, felt rather calm (partly because I practiced my speech a lot in front of my bathroom mirror and partly because everyone was so engrossed in typing down what I was saying that they were barely looking at me). When I was done, I felt so happy – like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. It didn’t go as horribly wrong as my brain was telling me after all!

Though I did trip over my words for a moment, it wasn’t too bad. No one pointed at me and belly-laughed. I survived!

Tagged in What messes with your head, presentation, anxiety