So on the 11th June (i.e. next week!) I have my first year seminar. I don’t think I can put into words the terror…
The first year seminar is a requirement in the department of genetics to pass the probation review (see last weeks blog for a little about that). It’s a total of 25mins long (including questions) and is a presentation to the whole department. Several students present on the same day, and lucky me I get to go first. Not just first on my day but first first, there haven’t been any other talks from anyone who started last October yet. This is partly my own fault, I was originally scheduled for 24th June but I’m at a conference so I had to be moved. Going first does have the benefit of getting it out the way early at least!
I will admit to being one of those people motivated by “the fear” when it come to exams and deadlines and I think a little bit of “the fear” is healthy, but this is different, this is full on terror. This is talking in front of the department, all the PhD students, academics, post-docs, everyone! No matter when this talk came along, no matter how much I prepare for it and practice, the terror will never go away. Now I know you can practice public speaking and this can help, I even took a training course “fundamentals for an effective presentation”, but public speaking and speaking to a group of academics isn’t always the same thing. It isn’t the speaking to a group of people that terrifies me, of course I have some nerves about that but I can deal with those. I could stand up in front of a group of people and tell them how to bake a cake, but telling them about my research is different. This is the first time I’m putting my research, my results, my thinking out there, essentially to be criticised. Now I know this isn’t a bad thing, as researchers we should always expect criticisms and we ourselves should challenge results. Constructive criticism will point me in new directions and ultimately have a positive impact on my work, but knowing that doesn’t make it any less terrifying to experience at the time. I have a run through planned with my supervisor for tomorrow where he’ll question me, just like others will next week. I’m hoping this helps.
Overall this is a rite of passage every PhD student of the genetics department will go through. I can’t wait for it to be done and when it is I’ll let you know how it went. More excitingly I have a few conferences coming up soon, Genomes 2014 in Paris at the end of this month, and in Sept I’ll be travelling to Germany for a 2 day event. At Paris I won’t be presenting a poster but in Germany I will, so more discussions of my work to follow 🙂 .