Thursday, 14 February 2019

Facing my frequency

Facing it...

New year, a new challenge hey?  So this comes after doing a presentation which I remain nameless so that no one goes looking for it (but sure you'll know which one).  I'm sure everyone feels like they don't present and articulate themselves well as they did when delivering webinars or face-to-face presentations.  I mean I do deliver some very clear, confident and reel off the tongue stuff - like the Society for Education and Training webinar I recorded recently (5 days before the presentation I am referring to here).  But sometimes when delivering, this cloud of nervousness creeps over me and I am left with what I feel is a waffling and unclear, incoherent mess.  It's so stupid really, as I feel it affects my reputation and I worry immensely about that.  I have had enough of feeling like 💩 after doing a presentation that I have prepared well for.  So, I am going to do the most dreaded thing that I fear the most - watching/listening to a recorded presentation of myself.  It's got to the point where I need to see 'outside looking in' what I am like.  I know this is common sense, a well-known technique and has been suggested to me many times as it will help.  Plus, its something they teach you at school, but, I just couldn't face it.  But now I will.  I need to nip it in the bud, so to speak.

Firstly I don't like:

  • Hearing my own voice (pure fear - I know we sound different than we think, nasal passages etc)
  • Seeing myself (how I move, posture etc - did I just do that?)
  • Realising that I may actually not be that good

I don't like playing myself back for one, but it's even worse when you know you feel you may not have been your best - or is it a case of this imposter syndrome?!  More of that in an upcoming blog post.

Watching it?!

So no further ado, let's get to the most cringey thing, watching/listening to myself being nervous.  Below are my some points I took after watching/listening to myself doing my presentation.  Note: the webinar was a double act with my colleague and on the final recording only my presentation and audio was available - thank goodness, but it would have gave me more to reflect on having seen myself.

Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought (I'm genuinely quite surprised), but still not how I wanted it to be - I wanted to express a lot more, I'm just a perfectionist at heart.  Maybe that's why I tend to focus on what needs improvement rather then recognising the good more.

Some positives:

  • I was very chatty, enthusiastic and kept the momentum going
  • Glad I suggested doing the webinar as a conversation as it makes it feel more natural and free flowing - that helped us both I think

Some negatives:

  • Way too many 'erms' (but better than 'you know' which I tend to say - the recipient often doesn't know, hence me having the conversation 🙄)
  • Tripping up over my words - perhaps having too many notes in front of me?  But I do like a little plan at the side of me - comfort, plus can't remember all good things to say
  • Possibly speaking too quick (Yorkshire coming through?)
  • Some very short quiet moments - but I think that is acceptable for thinking and pacing, you don't want to jump in too quick, equally not leaving gaps too long

My conclusion on why I felt like it wasn't as good is perhaps presentations don't always go as you plan and visualise in your head.  So once it doesn't go like that maybe that's when I start analysing myself during the presentation and sabotaging myself?  EDIT: I came across this quote during a PGCAP observation I was carrying out "A lesson plan is a structured imaginative rehearsal of a lesson." (Protherough, Atkinson & Fawcett, 1989).  A good point to remember by all if it doesn’t work out as intended...  But being highly empathetic I do pick up on body language and vibrations.  As said by Gary, perhaps it is the environment that affects my confidence, I.e. people not wanting to be there, a negative vibe etc.

My other colleague who was also in the room gave us some feedback:

  • Liked the case study/feedback/tips and quotes from academics - livens the webinar up!
  • ‘Smiles’ in voices, dialogue between facilitators worked really well ("did you come across this?"  "How many students chose...?"  "Tell us more about...")
  • Facilitators looking at each other - worked great
  • Hands/gesticulation - also works well!
  • Good to invite people to comment/ask questions by contacting facilitators directly

Loathing it?

So, how am I going to move forward with this?  Simply, not be too quick to judge myself, don't compare to others (but take parts as inspiration) treat myself with a lot more kindness, respect and recognise that I am doing a good job.  This is very timely as in our team we have mentioned observing each other professionally to share our practices, explore our strengths and find areas of improvement.  Wrapping this up, I'll end with saying this is why I do presentations and such as it's outside my comfort zone and I keep pushing myself.  I'm not a natural with public speaking and stage presence, but make the effort to push my own boundaries.  Much of this is recorded and in the public arena, oh well at least it shows that I am only human at the end of the day and not pretending to be something I am not.

EDIT:

April 2021, I came across this reflection I wrote around Autumn 2018 that is relevant to this blog post.

Reflection on a good training session – come back to this after a ‘feel bad’ session

Some are just generally better than others, I need to accept that and not dwell too much on the not so good ones.

I’ve just come out of a really good training session with PebblePad.  So why did I feel good after delivering this?  I felt slower and more composed, still odd dither here and there, but I spoke and moved with purpose.  Lots of eye contact, chatty in style, stopped for questions after some particular areas – more so on people getting their heads around how they could use it in their own practices.  I conducted the activity rather than passively going into it.  I felt confident in what I was saying, doing and showing.  The questions I received I felt I could answer.  I was thinking I gave the same amount of prep as the last bad one, but this time I noticed I gave myself sometime before the session (not in the room) but at my desk and went through what I was doing in a calm and safe manner – plus went through some notes from a Digital Taster. Maybe this framed it for me in my mind, composed me more.  I didn’t feel off-putted by someone I knew in audience.  I received a handshake from a library staff, saying thank you.  And generally lots of meaningful thank you’s at the end.  The people and dynamics were right, they felt they really wanted to be there to feed their curious minds – that always helps lift the vibrations of the room.  Perhaps the atmosphere doesn’t help sometimes, if I pick up anxiety/negativity I notice that I can sometimes become anxious.  I must be highly empathetic – use my personality test as a guide not a bible.

Was quite hard to get to it, but I arrived at it eventually.  Perhaps giving my mind and body what it needs, a bit or calm and safe focus.  That said, I generally need to be both assertive and attentive to my own needs first not serving the needs of others before mine, otherwise I compromise my own abilities and reputation.  However, Gary is quite right, it’s my down perceptions that let me down sometimes.