Friday, December 14, 2007

Public speaking

You know that old and tired joke about 75% of people fearing public speaking more than they fear death, so technically you'd be doing somebody a favor if you offed him or her the day before the scheduled public appearance? Anders - you heard a minor variation on this in August, from what I recall. As did I.........

I'm starting to think it might actually be true, as an inordinate percentage of people appear to be seriously affected by the prospects of having to face an audience. A LOT of passive voicing in that there sentence - I know. Still; the fact remains - way more people than I thought struggle with public speaking. Worst of all, some of these people flat out fear public speaking although it's an integral part of their job. Hypothetically, if you were a faculty member at a university in Norway, 50% of your job description consists of teaching, which means having to stand in front of an audience for a bunch of hours every week. Plus you have to factor in all the presenting and parading that comes with the research part of your job. So if you get physical reactions to public speaking - as I've seen (again hypothetically speaking) more than one permanent staff member do over the last year - then why in the blue hell would you want to have this job? No job is flawless, but if you absolutely hate and fear approximately 50% of your job, you should SO quit and find some other avenue of life in which to use your talents - somewhere you don't have to fear going to work. I guess a certain tension before going into action might enhance performance - what the hell do I know, but if you're pale, your hand is unsteady and your voice is trembling while you're obviously sweating profusely, I refuse to believe that you are "all that you can be".

Why I started thinking about this? I witnessed final-year student presentations today...

TGIF

16 comments:

Pigeon said...

Why I started thinking about this? I witnessed final-year student presentations today...

TGIF


Damn you're mean.

Wilhelm said...

Yes I am, but in this case it's more that I wouldn't wish dreading a large fraction on your work on students who work hard to be where they're at. You don't think you have to do public speaking if you work in industry with a MSc or higher?

Anders said...

Regarding public speaking, I believe it's just a matter of training. Of course there are people that never will handle public speaking (though far less then 75%), but as long as you're able to talk to strangers (e.g. in a party or something), I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to speak in public without too much discomfort. Of course there are other stress factors, like if you presentation will be graded, if there are millions of people watching, etc, etc.

If there is a long time since I've done a presentation of some kind, I usually try to volunteer for something. Just to maintain my skills.

Wilhelm said...

You're probably right about the training part- the market for this is hyooge on the academic circuit.

You volunteer for stuff? Like what?

Anders said...

Like if you work in a group and should do a presentation, I volunteer (if I'm comfortable with the result), I might do a presentation of my work/ instrumentation to colleges, do presentation for visiting students, etc, etc. There is always a way of doing a presentation if you want to.

Wilhelm said...

I seldom have to worry about finding opportunities to do public speaking, as it's firmly embedded in my job.

Really cool that you look at it as a skill set which needs training, though.

Anders said...

I know. I did have some sort of presentation embeeded in my former job as well, but sometimes I were assigned to projects which did not involve any presentation/ public speaking at all in a year or so (I don't regard working meetings as pulbic speaking, though). So I tried to find something to present at times when I it wasn't embedded in my daily work.

The reason I look at it as a skill set, is that the last year of my university degree and first year of my job didn't involve any presentations at all. So reviewing my first presentation after that period, I found that I've lost some of the flow and edge of presentation. I needed a couple to get back on track. Not that I feared public speaking, but the presentation lacked some of the quality it had before. And I did quite a few presentation in my days as a union careerist, so I knew what level the presentations could be at.

Wilhelm said...

You chose ye olde way of doing your Cand Scient - without oral presentation of the work?

I remember electing not to have a presentation - the underlying motive eludes me, but I think it was due to the fact that for us transitioning from ye olde to the new system, the presentation just meant extra work, something I was not particularly eager to undergo at that specific point in time.

Ironically, I seem to recall that I swore up and down that I'd never ever take another exam again after I finished my M. Phil

....that promise held true for about six months

Anders said...

Ironically, I seem to recall that I swore up and down that I'd never ever take another exam again after I finished my M. Phil

....that promise held true for about six months


Yeah, you can't be trusted, you exam-junkie you... ;-)

Wilhelm said...

Since completing my M Phil, I've had ~15 more exams, including cumes, but not including GRE and TOEFL.

Damn.

Anders said...

exam again after I finished my M. Phil

Since completing my M Phil, I've had ~15 more exams, including cumes, but not including GRE and TOEFL.

Btw., I knew you had some classes at the Faculty of Humanities, but that you ended up with a master from there came as a huge surprise. May I ask within what field of Humanities you graduated in? Metaphysics? Runology?
;-)

Wilhelm said...

Hey; I breathed the air -I'm infested.

Besides, I learned through a tedious process known as running between offices at UiB that Cand Scient is Master of Philosophy in Science, as MSc at that time was a differnt degree than what we've got.

Anders said...

Besides, I learned through a tedious process known as running between offices at UiB that Cand Scient is Master of Philosophy in Science, as MSc at that time was a differnt degree than what we've got.

I don't care. From now on I will only refer to you as Master Of Metaphysics, Runology and Modern Arabic Fiction and Dramatic Arts!
:-D

PS: Master of Philosophy in Science is that M.Phil.In.Sci?

Wilhelm said...

What is Modern Arabic Fiction? Al Jazeera?

Anders said...

No, I think that is Dramatic Arts.
;-)

Wilhelm said...

I fear that I would risk my status as politically correct to the max if I continue about Al Jazeera, so...........