Taming the Butterflies
This last week I had two presentations.
On Wednesday, I presented on a 18th century Chinese scientist named Wang Zhenyi. She was amazing. In her short life, Zhenyi wrote 12 books, several poetry books, and articles. She discovered the lunar eclipse and explained the physics of gravity in her publication "Of a Ball-Shaped Earth". Basically, she explained that people cannot fall off the earth because of gravity.
I hope I did right by her. Wang Zhenyi was also a feminist, and believed that men and women should have equal educational opportunities, especially in the hard sciences. (Does that sound familiar?)
On Saturday, I presented on a panel for the Regional Midwest Liberal Studies Conference held at IUSB. This was a little more informal for me since I wasn't being evaluated. I presented on the Pleiades, which is the Seven Sisters cluster. Fortunately, my speech was short but sweet since the conference ran a little behind. The keynote speaker/singer and her accompanist were terrific! She talked about the interdisciplinary aspect of voice. I personally wouldn't have minded not presenting and just listening to them for the afternoon, but that wasn't part of the program. (I give kudos to the chair of the Liberal Studies department--he put on a nice conference.)
Interestingly, although I have been a performer in some way for a very long time, I was quite anxious when I gave the first presentation. (It is probably due to the fact that I was being evaluated.) So, this week I can inform my speech students that the butterflies will most likely be there, even for people who have done this for a long time. It means you care. Although anxiety can be uncomfortable, it is good. I also noted that I cannot--and did not--eat before either presentation this week. Afterwards, after I crashed from the adrenalin, I could eat as usual.
I was also nervous when I spoke during my session on Saturday. I was more concerned that it was not good enough. (The other two presentations were really interesting.) However, I need to keep in mind that I did the best that I could, and that there is only one person I need to be competing with: the person in the mirror. It's done, and I can note this experience on my CV.
Instead of worrying of how I fared, I need to be hopeful that it was a better experience for my audience than for me. That is the most important part of performing or presenting: making your audience happy and hoping that they learned something.