500 Words At A Time: Research, The Undiscovered Country, Part 2

Here is my take away from my presentation, not my take away immediately afterwards, but now years later, it caused me to get better. In the aftermath, however…

I arrived with family in tow, holding crushing my presentation. I was sweating like a pig due to the heat and the extreme nerves. I was overly sarcastic and the nervous energy of the other presenters did not feed my inner energy like normal, only accentuated my nerves. On a walk around the IRC with Paul, where we got two bottles of water for the price of one…which I would later drink along with several other bottles of water like a man just out of the desert or a man determined to drink away his sins…my nerves only ratcheted up.

I like to present first. If I do well, the bar is raised for everyone else. If I shit the bed, everyone else can do what they want. Regards, I went first and I can relax. I did not get to go first. I had to wait. Waiting is either a calming effect for me or a “I need to get out of here and I will go through anyone and anything that stands in my way” effect. This was the “get out of here.” The people who went before me looked good in their suits. They spoke well about subjects that went way over my head, at least in a fifteen minute way, and most of all they came across as if they had their shit together.

We had decided to do things differently, instead of thanking everyone at the end of our presentation, ours was at the beginning. Why, because I believe in thanking people first, not after I have done something. Plus it was a style choice. Unfortunately, the lady in charge had remarried and had a new last name, which I couldn’t remember, as I suck as names.

Our turn came up and Paul gave me the best introduction I have ever gotten. I don’t know if I thanked him for that, thank you. It meant a lot, even as in my nerves and that brain haze that preceeds either a great moment or a shit the bed the bed moment, I edged down to present, my notes crushed in my hand. There was no clicker.

I need to move when presenting. Dynamic energy gives me…is who I am as a presenter. Trapped near the podium, I felt even worse. And then I had power point issues, I don’t recall what they were exactly, but I do recall commenting on them, which got a laugh and that was a small start for me. The intro went exactly as I expected, awkward and flat. The explanation of the data went as I expected, halting, stumbled, and awkward as I tried to remember the terms and what they meant. My crumpled notes, I have no idea.

Man_yelling_at_computerHowever, instead of giving up, which was a thought, I pushed through the intro, the explanation of the data, the power point, and finally got to my comfort zone; the process. There was a slide where a man is yelling at his computer (similar to the one to the left). When Paul showed me the slide I laughed. When I showed the audience the slide I laughed again. The laugh helped me. That was when the cow story came out and the rest of the summer came out like I had hoped. I like to move when presenting and I like to gesture, especially if I have something to gesture at. During the process section, I moved away from the podium and I gestured over my shoulder at whichever slide was on the screen. Later during the Q&A section, I kept gesturing, even when there wasn’t a slide there. When I finished, I looked up to a see of blank faces. That is what I saw. Then a hand and another.

Fish CancerDave Schrock (I do believe that was him way in the back; if I am wrong someone correct me), asked the most interesting question, “was I disappointed that the readers did not notice.” * Presentation is not my strength, answering questions is. That question was a gift, because I got to answer that and a few others. I sat down drained, dehydrated (those bottles of water gone), and feeling defeated. After the presentations, which included the horrifying; give fish cancer, cure them, and give them cancer again presentation and the equally horrifying: break a rats back, toss them into water, and wonder why they can’t swim straight presentation there was, you guessed it, pinwheel sandwiches.

Standing in the hallway people congratulated me, I did not feel like I deserved it, but more importantly which only resonated later, people asked me more questions about the research. Like I have said, at that moment I felt like I had failed, but later I realized while not my best moment, it did what it was supposed to do, get people interested enough to ask questions.

So what happened to the research? You guessed it again, another 500 Words…

* My answer then and now, is no. I was never disappointed that readers did not notice. After all nobody noticed when SeattlePolyChick was using voice-to-text so why should they notice when I did. I was disappointed, by the lack of response to the survey, but I take the blame for that, as I could have done a better job informing readers about the survey and it’s importance (at the time) to me.


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