Public speaking woes

Today I gave my final PhD talk. Oh what fun.

All of my insecurities came flooding back. Yesterday I was swearing abuse at my slides because I thought they were shit. This morning I practiced my talk for the final time and it ran for 40 minutes instead of the expected 1 hour. I worked so hard on making complex ideas appear simple and my talk is 20 minutes too short. Why am I always under the time limit? Oh god, people are going to think I haven’t worked hard enough and my project was easy…

And people are going to ask me nasty questions. They are going to spot the flaws in my conclusions of population division (this fear is illogical. I am the only person in the department who works on fish. No one here understands this stuff). They are going to question my interpertations that go against mainstream opinions. And then I’m going to stumble and look a fool because until recently I believed in the mainstream and am still trying to get my head around things. And I am going to use nontechnical words like “stuff” and “thingy” because words are hard.

I cried. Right in front of my lab mates and supervisor. In a cafe. It’s kinda awkward ordering a big muffin with a red teary face. My friends were wonderful and comforting but I couldn’t stop crying until we chaned the subject to ordinary conversation like ear wax and crazy family members.
I did have time to clean up my face before the talk. And I gave my too-short talk with a confident air, a good pace, and plenty of eye contact. This is why I script my talks. Yay me for fooling people into believing that I am confident about my conclusions and not worried that I’m making stuff up. Fish are hard…

So now all that is left is the thesis. I have about 2 1/2 weeks before I start printing. There is still a lot of work to do but right now things are looking on track. I was initially worried the thesis would be too small (I blame the person ranting to me a few years ago about how certain people managed to get their PhD’s with a small thesis. She’s the reason I’m so paranoid about the length of my thesis and talk). Eventually I realised that the uni had changed it’s guidelines from double-spaced to 1.5-spaced text and that was why my chapters looked smaller than those of past students. So I am feeling quite good about the thesis right now. Of course, I seem to have a different mood a day so who knows how I’ll feel tomorrow.


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