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Student Article - Surviving an oral presentation !
Author: Raul Perez
Who said it was easy to carry out an oral presentation? I performed mine a month ago more or less and, now, I can look at it with perspective. If you are about to go through what I have just experienced, I should warn you that you will have to face different emotional phases while preparing your oral presentation for English Language IV.
Last year I was already registered in this subject but I did not carry out the presentation because I did not feel quite implicated, as I did not attend the majority of the lessons. I took that decision because my presence at university was going to be compulsory this year as there were some subjects left for this final course. Another reason that also helped was the fact that I could postpone the fatal moment several months. Forgetting about it was a good idea for some time but the problem came when I realized that this year there would be no excuses, no escape!
By the end of summer I was preparing my September exams and, surprisingly, I started to think about the oral presentation. I even remember one evening, lying on the grass in front of the general library, searching for an interesting subject and writing a kind of structure of what was supposed to be the ideal presentation. Maybe the stress of that moment, where the important thing was to pass other subjects, did not let me see properly the difficulties I was going to deal with in the future.
September was finished and we were back; another year (the last one, I hope!) with more lessons but just one thing to worry about: “when will I have to speak in public?” From my previous experience of other kinds of class work, I knew it was a good idea to do it as soon as possible, so that I could forget about it the rest of the course, but due to my negative predisposition, I decided to leave it until the second semester. This was, at least, my intention. But one shiny October morning, I entered the lecturer’s office to put my name down on the list of the oral presentations and my worst omens came true, as she assigned me the date…and it was the 23rd of November! I had a month to look for a good subject, structure it well, turn it to power point and, what seemed the most impossible task, lose my stage-fright.
I soon realized about a fact: the pressure felt when making a presentation in class is much higher than that you suffer in written exams. It can be clearly seen if you compare both situations: in one of them you are tested in front of the rest of the class, with everyone staring at you, watching your work with great attention (and even evaluating it!) whereas in the other, nobody knows what you write, except for you and the teacher when she reads it at home or in the office (far from you so that you cannot see her reaction).
After the initial panic I had to return to the real world and start with the task. Together with my partner, we looked for subjects in the net until we found one that fit our interests and that seemed quite amusing. I believe it is very important to feel confident with the topic chosen; it is a way to carry out a good performance as you are attracted to the topic and, as a consequence, you can make the audience be attracted by it. After selecting the issue, we had to develop the main ideas and we did it the best we could in the little time that we had left until the special day. It was the decisive weekend, just before the crucial moment. The final verdict of the impossibility or not of my carrying out an oral presentation was to be given. I could not sleep well for the whole week, but it was during the weekend that a terrible stomach-ache appeared accompanied by a funny nervous tic in my right eye. “Great”, I thought, “now, I will look like an absolute fool”. I remember there was a voice pounding in my head those days preceding that Tuesday 23rd; “fear of humiliation, fear of humiliation…” it said continuously while I tried to revise all the rules of thumb that had to help me look spontaneous and self-assured. How the hell could I remain calm and look sure of myself with the tic in my eye, the stomach cramps, the unpleasant cold sweat that affects me when I am really nervous and that annoying voice in my head: “fear of humiliation, fear of humiliation…”
Finally, the moment had arrived and I entered the class with the right mental preparation, repeating to myself a sentence that has become a kind of motto: “I can do it, I am going to do it and I am going to do it well”. Once I managed to control the initial intimidation that public-speaking entails, everything came out perfect. An adequate previous preparation was obviously necessary to handle this pressure, I mean, you cannot speak properly in front of an audience if you do not prepare the topic you are dealing with carefully. That was what my partner and I did, and I can assure you that the sensations I felt during and after the presentation were absolutely indescribable. I was so proud that I thought I could face anything, and this was incredible according to the limitations I thought I had just a month ago.


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