by: Rachel Newcombe
It’s here. The season is upon us. We will be seeing your wonderful face at the end of this week. Are you geeking out yet, because we are.
If you are one of the lucky people chosen to present, you may be freaking out that your big public speaking moment is only a few days away. Shh, it’s okay, just breathe into the nearest paper bag. QUEUC is nothing to be scared of. It’s only the largest humanities undergraduate conference in North America where you get to present YOUR work to others… okay I see why you may be feeling a little nervous. If public speaking is something that gives you shivers and makes your chest quiver, we here at QUEUC want to do our best to ease your worries:
We can’t stress the importance of a good meal before you present. If you’re well hydrated and well-fed, you’ll feel good. If you feel good, your confidence will be there. In an article on public speaking, TedTalks stresses the importance of eating protein to regulate your dopamine and epinephrine levels and help your mental alertness (who knew???).
Part of the ‘feel-good, perform-good’ mentality is what you’re wearing. Are you comfortable? Is that itchy tag going to be a distraction? It’s time to utilize all the clothes you have that are too nice for class… believe it or not it feels nice to get out of your sweatpants everyone and awhile. We know you’ve been saving your business-casual j e m s for the right moment to shine and that time has come.
It may sound silly, but it really does work (trust me I do it ALL the time). Dance it out, jump around, or as my girl T-Swift says, “shake it off”. Sometimes your nerves will get you all riled up and the best way to expel them is to exert that energy. Put on your favourite song, (I highly recommend “What I Like About You” by The Romantics) take 5 minutes and just go nuts. You may end up out of breath but you will also end up out of nerves.
Conferences with presentations and panels means that questions are bound to crop up. Now you may know your paper backwards and forwards and could recite it to the stranger next to you at the bus depot, but I highly recommend roping in some of your closest friends to help you prepare for questions you may get. The more practice you get answering questions, the better equipped you’ll be to handle the ones you get at QUEUC. Even if they aren’t the questions your friends asked you, you’ll have some insight into the types of questions interested people may ask.
Once you’re up there looking at everyone looking at you, don’t be afraid to take a breath every once in awhile. You don’t have to say everything all at once, and taking a pause at appropriate stopping points in your paper gives you time to collect your thoughts. BONUS: a pause also gives the audience time to reflect on your last point. You don’t want to overload them or yourself!
Remember: all the presenters are in the same boat, and your paper was chosen because it’s really good. You’ve already done all the work, now its time to show it off. Think about why you like your paper and what made you want to submit it. And if you share those reasons with the people you are presenting to, they will fully understand why you were selected to be a part of QUEUC.