The Mindful Presenter

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an almost paralyzing fear of speaking in public. Despite the fact that I sung, acted, and improvised on stage while growing up, the idea of presenting my own thoughts and opinions … Continue reading

Attending My 1st Conference and Stuff I’m Nervous/Excited About….

Next week, I will be attending my very first academic conference. Hooray! I’ll also experience another first: presenting my research for the very first time to people outside of my school. Sort of hooray! I’m a bit nervous about my ability to discuss my research eloquently (or at least coherently) to other conference attendees and presenters. I feel like I’ve been living with my research for awhile but under pressure I may come across completely lost and not very bright. After experiencing this while presenting and lecturing, I’m not looking forward to what may happen during a conference. Another concern is that my introversion becomes a little more obvious in all-day social situations like conferences. For me, interacting with people takes a significant amount of energy, both mental and physical. But I’ve discovered that my field (and academia in general) is full of introverts who seem to have figured out how to play the socializing game. I can too! I will need to find an ideal balance between socializing time and alone time.

Me sometimes....

Me sometimes….

via hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com 

Aside from this nervousness, I’m excited about meeting fellow researchers and hearing about what they’re working on. During the ALA Annual conference in July, I found myself inspired by the innovative programming, services, and tools librarians across the country have developed. I’m aware of what other doctoral students in my program are working on, but not much beyond that. At times, I become buried in my own research projects and those I’m collaborating on, completely forgetting the creative and intelligent research being produced by others in my field. I imagine I will find myself bouncing up and down in excitement and saying, “How cool!” a lot during the conference. This sounds professional, right?

Helpful Tips from Those Who Have Been There and Done That:

Beginner’s Guide to Attending Conferences

Advice for Graduate Students and others Attending Conferences (I particularly like ‘See Poohbahs and Bigwigs at Panels’)

Becoming Part of the Research Community

Panic at the Lecture Hall a.k.a. My First Lecture

Monday at 12:20 PM marks the start of my first ever experience lecturing! **some sort of nervous, tense music plays** 150+ undergraduates will be perched in their seats, staring at me, probably hoping for the end of class. Ideally from my lecture, they will learn more about information behaviors, needs, and use, each of which I am interested in as a information studies researcher. My belief (and what I’ve heard from others) is that larger groups are much easier to speak in from of than small groups, like a doctoral seminar. We shall see! I’ve found (to my delight) that I enjoy my lab session immensely. My session has around 50 students, so I am becoming more accustomed to speaking in front of larger groups.

At the moment I’m managing my lecture related stress reasonably well. I have received a great deal of support and advice from friends, colleagues, and students. As almost everyone knows, fear of public speaking is extremely common. However, as an introvert, I find that I experience intense panic instead of the more normal (and healthier) nervousness before a presentation. More often than not, my presentations are relatively successful. I’ve only had a few presentation or other public speaking types of engagements that have been crash and burn situations. Sigh.

While I’m terrified at thought of lecturing, I’m also, surprisingly enough, somewhat excited! I’m incorporating Twitter into my lecture, which I am expecting the students will enjoy (please!). Since my lecture is on information behaviors, I couldn’t think of a better way to really grasp this concept than by experiencing it first-hand. I will ask the students to tweet any questions, comments, or confusions to our class hashtag #infosci. Additionally, students will be required to tweet during the class session three interesting, important, and/or surprising things they have learned from my lecture or the course readings. I’ve never taken a course that incorporated social media in the classroom, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the students respond, as well as how I well/poorly I carry the whole thing out). Look forward to a future post on my experience.  I don’t believe in luck, so please wish me something good for Monday!

Has anyone used social media in the classroom? What have your experiences been like? Would you recommend it to others?

In your experience, what are some the benefits and drawbacks to social media in education?

The Introverted PhD Student *

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I consider myself an introvert. I’m not sure when I gave myself this label, but I distinctly remember coming home with report cards that hinted at it – “Abby’s a good student but she’s so quiet”,”Needs to talk more in class”, “Does she have a voice??? Make her talk!!!!” (the last one I made up but you get the idea). There are certain professions where being introverted isn’t a necessarily a drawback (I think), but academia does not seem to be one of them. You would think that a group of people who spend significant amounts of time working solo or in small groups would be naturally be introverted. Maybe they’ve found a way to come to terms with this. Maybe there is a secret that I have been cruelly kept from finding out. What I’ve experienced in my first year as a doctoral student is that I’m surrounded by people who seem to have little fear of making presentations or participating in group discussions. But I have a huge amount of fear. My fear is loud, aggressive, headache inducing, and tends to keep me from sleeping. One of my main problems when speaking in public is that my mind blanks. I have thoughts. I’m a relatively intelligent person. But when I’m forced to speak all my higher level thinking disappears to somewhere far, far away. So what do you do when public speaking seems to be a requirement?

I don’t know.

What I have accepted is that I am an introvert. I’m quiet and shy. This will never change and I don’t want it too. I no longer see it as a flaw that must be corrected. I think this is an important and necessary step. But I know that I need to be a better public speaker. I’m going to have to do a significant amount of it to get my PhD. Defending my prospectus and my dissertation, along with conference presentations, demand a lot of public speaking and quick thinking. At the moment I’m setting small goals for myself. Saying something (anything really) during class discussion and carefully planning out possibilities for short presentations, and trying to figure out tricks/tools that will help me relax when I speak publicly. The end goal is to defend my prospectus and dissertation with turning beet read, rambling, and possibly fleeing. It’s the small things.

Some introvert links that I liked. Everyone loves a guide.:

A Guide to Public Speaking for Introverts and Shy People

The Introvert’s No-Fear Guide to Public Speaking

* a sort of confessional