What a week its been!
Exams and Halloween are just over and I feel swamped in work already! I had been preparing for a group presentation that I had to give today. It’s safe to say it was not one of my best presentations, unfortunately. We weren’t concise enough and ran out of time…
I don’t mind speaking in front of large audiences, as long its in English, but sometimes my heart starts beating ferociously I can’t even think straight. Add that to the tomato that slowly replaces my head whilst I speak. I honestly can’t even say why I feel so insecure and nervous.. but my body goes berserk!
Suddenly, simple words and phrases aren’t so simple anymore. Coming up with basic sentence constructions becomes an almost impossible task. When I’m speaking English, it’s still relatively do-able. I don’t sound like an utter incompetent buffoon trying to convey meaning.
Although I am a multilingual, I am not necessarily perfectly fluent in all the languages I speak.
Living in the Netherlands obviously implies speaking and hearing Dutch on a daily basis. I have no problem with Dutch considering the fact that I’ve been exposed to the language since I was in primary school. Despite being a language that I’m fluent in, I am not always comfortable speaking it especially not around people who speak it far better than I do since it’s their native tongue. I feel under pressure and immensely judged and end up speaking at a very low level even though my capacity is much higher.
It can be the most embarrassing thing in the world when you utter a phrase and later on realise that it was so incorrect you could have jumped into a black hole that instant! I’ve had cases before where my utterance in a casual conversation will suddenly pop in my head a day later and I’ll think what did I say?! That’s horrible language! And I obviously know the correct phrase. Sometimes it happens on the spot! And I’ll have people looking at me like I really can’t speak the language.
When under pressure, I’m sure we’re all prone to feeling self-conscious and insecure, especially if you’re not accustomed to speaking to strangers and audiences regularly. Picturing everyone in their underwear, unfortunately, doesn’t work for everyone, rather it fuels my nerves even more. Picturing people in their underwear is down right awkward and I’d rather walk away than present something. I guess that phrase or expression comes from vulnerability. Thinking that others are also vulnerable (being half naked and all) makes you not all that vulnerable anymore. Technically, this is good advice, only picturing everyone in their underwear doesn’t exactly help. So what should we do?
Embrace the nerves.
I’ve found that nothing is better than accepting the way you feel. Admitting being nervous and laughing about it is the best thing you can do. Once you’ve gotten over the fact that your nervous, you’ll probably slowly forget about it and focus on what you’re supposed to be saying or doing. It really does come down to the fact that everyone is probably nervous. You’re all humans and you’re all vulnerable. Sometimes, it’s hard to accept that but ask any down to earth normal human being, I’m sure they’ll say it’s alright and everyone gets nervous.
The more you know…
What also helps is knowing that you’ve prepared and that you now hold more information than your peers. They’re going to learn from you. You present your interpretation or ideas, and that’s it. They’re your interpretation and ideas. Not theirs. You hold the power at this point and they can choose to agree with you or not. In either case, it’s not up to you. Unless the aim of the presentation is to convince others. In which case, you still know more.
And lastly, the most important advice I can think of is breathe and smile. It truly helps. Just remember to breathe and remember you’re human, and smile about it because smiling is contagious! It also automatically creates a friendly atmosphere in the room. And also helps with the nerves…
Speaking from my experience of earlier today,
(I don’t take any credit for the gifs above)