The Fear of Presenting
I am deputy chairman of the UK Oracle User Group: Availability, Infrastructure and Management (AIM) SIG. We arrange several groups per year where we look to get speakers to present on all manner of subject in relation to the remit of the SIG: Exadata, RAC, Partitioning, Grid Control, Managing DBA’s, etc (for more info, check here). However, it can sometimes be difficult to get presenters, and close to impossible to get new presenters.
Now, most people are pretty scared to get up in front of their peers and present. It initially seems quite a daunting prospect. However, I was recently reading Dr Richard Feynman’s autobiography, which puts the fear of your first presentation into perspective:
When he was a graduate student at Princeton, Feynman was working as a research student and was encouraged by John Wheeler to give a talk on an electrodynamics theory they were working on, as “you need experience in giving talks”. Feynman found out later that especially invited to the talk were Henry Norris Russell, Professor Wolfgang Pauli, and Professor Albert Einstein. Three of the most preeminent scientists of their day (you might have heard of at least one of them).
So, if you think your talk is going to be difficult standing in front of a couple of contractors, 3 geeks from the local council, a couple of bankers and some bloke from a supermarket, it’s not. Well, not compared to being open to critique by Pauli and Einstein! Nobody is going to be critical of your talk, only supportive. Nobody expects a presenter to have all of the answers. Many of us have witnessed the consummate presenter Jonathan Lewis writing impossible SQL on a flip chart, much to his chagrin. So if Jonathan can make an amusing mistake, I don’t think we’re overly worried about anybody else making one either.
As for Feynman, his only regret about the seminar as that he can’t remember exactly what Prof. Pauli has said when he raised a question, as he thinks it might have been the answer to making a quantum version of his electrodynamic theory.
So, if you DO present, and I would really encourage you to present, listen carefully to any questions asked by the audience. They just might give you the answer you are looking for.
For the record and to stop frivolous posts, Martin, I DO present occasionally. Just not as much as perhaps I should.