Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Thoughts on Presenting in a Professional Setting

Let’s face it: Everyone hates public speaking. The thought of having to stand in front of a big group of people and just talk while all their eyes are focused on you makes my heart race out of my chest. What if I mess up? What if I completely blank out and forget what to say and make everything awkward? These were the questions running through my head when I was told by my supervisor that I would be giving a presentation on the programming language, R, during my first week of work.

Even though I took Business Presentations last semester, where I essentially had to present every week for 6 weeks straight, I still felt that I was not ready to present in a professional setting. I expressed these thoughts to my supervisor, Ed, who told me that he understood where I was coming from. No one likes public speaking, not even himself. But, he told me, that I should look at every chance that I have to present as an opportunity to improve myself. There might never come a time where I enjoy presenting, but that doesn’t mean that I am bad at it.

Fast forward 6 weeks. I have already given four presentations; three to the entire Business Analytics team and one to the Vice President of the department. Was I less nervous? No, I wasn’t. But I took the constructive criticism that the team gave me each time and used it to further improve myself and grow as a businesswoman. Moving forward, I will take any chance I have to practice my public speaking skills.