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Why do we present?

March 4, 2011

As I composed my last blog post about my first presentation and thought back to everything I went through, I was  reminded of some of the questions that went through my mind during those difficult times, staying up late at night trying to come up with just the right way to word something or figure out exactly how Powerpoint slide animation worked.  As lots of other presenters far better than I have also done from time to time, I started asking myself, “Is there something wrong with me?  Why am I putting myself through all of the time and agony of spending hours at night, locked in my room or in the basement, away from my family, writing a paper and creating Powerpoint slides?  Didn’t I swear after college that I would never write another paper as long as I lived?  On top of that, why am I doing it all for free?!?!”  And yet, after all that time and effort, coming up with no answers to those questions, I, along with thousands of others, continue to do it year after year.

I’d like to tell you that “it’s my way of giving back to the community,” but that’s just something that rich and famous celebrities say, and I’m not quite there yet.  For me, while I think that there is some truth to that, I tend to think there’s a lot more to it.  Though I can only speak for myself, I have the feeling that deep down, there’s a part of all of us that likes to share with others what we feel we know well, especially if that something is unique.  I certainly fall into that category.  I also feel that while nobody’s asking for autographs after my presentations, circulating my name throughout the community and matching it with valuable skills and knowledge can only lead to good things down the road.

Most people that know me know that I’m not always very social.  I don’t do well at parties, and I even get a little tense when someone gets on the elevator with me.  But I look forward to conferences.  I’ve met lots of people over the years and its not because there’s an overabundance of people who are willing to talk about the weather.  I think that in part, it’s because being a presenter opens up opportunities – some for friendship, some for business relationships, among others.

If you’ve presented before, share with us why you got into it and the benefits you’ve reaped from the experience.  What advice would you offer to new presenters?

If you’re about to present for the first time or even considering it, what are your hopes?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2011 7:42 am

    I don’t present very often. The thought of presenting causes my palms to sweat and my stomach to roll. But the more I do it, the less stressful it is. Here’s my tip: until you become a pro at presenting, present only topics you know really well and that you are really interested in. Your enthusiasm and knowledge will overpower a few extra ‘ums’ every time.

    Why present all? If you share what you know to help others, it will come back to you in spades.

    Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

  2. Andrea Wainwright-Zimmerman permalink
    March 5, 2011 7:17 pm

    One thing I learned back in college is that one way to prove to myself that I’ve mastered a subject, it to teach it to someone else. If I can explain it well enough that they can understand and replicate it, then I’ve gotten a good grasp.

    And yeah, the networking can’t be bad :)

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