Tag Archives: speech

Presenter Extraordinaire

Do you ever speak before a group of people and then conclude to dead silence? 

That happened to me after I gave my class presentation. The professor even said, “Oh, is that it?”

So I sat down thinking, “I talked too fast. That must have been it. Or I didn’t elaborate on my points enough. But if that was the case, why didn’t the professor ask more questions?!” 

You know how it goes. But then, after class, the professor walked up to me:

“Great job with your presentation! You seemed very confident up there. Were you a teacher?”

The first thing that popped into my mind I could not say. Namely: “No, but I have a lot of experience B.S.ing my way through group projects.”

So instead I thanked her and assured her I was shaking with nerves inside even if I looked outwardly calm. 

Because no matter how hard my school tries to drill into my head that as a woman I am not confident enough and I need to own my skills more, it still comes across weird to say, “Yeah, I was confident because I read that dissent like 6 times and then practiced my speech a dozen times.” Then again, maybe I should have. In the moment, though, I was torn between gratitude and a desire to deflect, deflect, deflect

Group Projects

I know I complained in my last post about how group papers are more awful than group presentations, but let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the group presentation I had today. 

For some inexplicable reason, the professor decided to make “peer evaluation” 50% of the grade. Now, let’s recap. Do Thai students pay attention in class? No. Do they focus on the professor when he talks? No. So, do you think they magically pay attention when a fellow student talks? Not on your life.

Maybe he hoped the responsibility of grading the other groups would mean people would stay engaged. I can confidently say that did not work. While presenting, I looked out across the room and saw….someone sleeping, two people with earbuds in, and exactly everyone on their phones. Not that my group acted much better. The girl next to me ate her breakfast (very pungent rice and liver) and then started talking on the phone (all while groups presented.) 

At least the professor was not on his phone. I’ve had some presentations here where the professor spent most the class period scrolling through Facebook. 

My group decided to put me in charge of the “peer” evaluation. Except, I am not really a peer. I am a former debate coach and captain who judges high school forensics for fun. Tell me to evaluate and I will evaluate. Just probably more than anyone expects. 

The professor handed out evaluation sheets and I professionally filled out my information on the ballots evaluation sheets within a matter of seconds. I then waited, pen poised, for the first group. Of the 10 groups present, mine went nearly last so I got to witness quite a bit. 

Different groups struggled with different things. Consistently, but I stress differently with each group, I noted lack of eye contact, a tendency to read block paragraphs off the slide, and a habit of sitting on the floor while other group members presented. I kept thinking, ‘Our group should do so much better.’

But oh, oh, oh, how wrong I was. My group got up there and literally did every. single. thing. I criticized the other groups for doing. My groupmates mumbled into the mic. They read block paragraphs from the slides. They sat on the floor. They chatted amongst one another while someone else presented. I suppose I did not actually see them avoid eye contact, but I did watch them stare avidly at the paper in front of them instead of looking up so I can only imagine what it looked like to the listeners. 

 That is, presuming someone actually listened.