The Thought Process of Giving a Presentation

It’s the first day back at Oxford, Hilary term. I’m due to present in a legal theory class in a few hours.

Hmmm…first day of school! I consider ironing my top and wonder if I have any barrettes. Oh wait…that’s the school picture day trope. I should be sharpening my pencils. Metaphorically, of course. The few notes I made last term were bashed out on my laptop, or hastily scrawled in lipliner.

Nerrrrves. I’m not a confident speaker at the best of times. Let alone when I’m presenting on something completely over my head. Like state sovereignty and how we can reconcile it with the emergence of supranational legal orders. Ugh. I should probably have spent more than 2 jet lagged days on this.

I should watch a TEDTalk to put things in perspective.

I watch Larry Smith’s “Why you will fail to have a great career”. Ok, now my eyes are brimming with tears and I have an ache in my chest and an overwhelming sense that I’m wasting my life and need to be Seizing the Day and Creating and Following My Great Passion…

This is good. I mean, I’ve started thinking about how I’m failing to realise my life’s purpose, but I’m also a little less nervous about giving this presentation.

What should I wear? Are pearl earrings too ‘demure defendant’?

I arrive at the seminar room.

Oh wow, this room is swanky. Snuff is practically seeping out of the walls. This leather-clad boardroom table is dope. All I want to do is drape a white ermine about my neck, roll out a giant parchment map of the world and push around battalions of little green army men with a long-armed bonsai rake…

Focus. Ok rhubarb rhubarb introductory info from the profs…and now I’m speaking. Well, reading from my laptop. I should make eye contact.

Why is Daniel wearing a suit and clutching a briefcase? He looks like the toddler in the Blumers Workers Compensation ad. And why is Richard glaring at me from under such knitted brows? He looks so perplexed. I should just barrel on. Samaire Armstrong’s face materialises before my eyes.


Thank god I don’t have Adam Brody’s speech impediment. Though I could do with being a bit more animated. I Mexican-wave my eyebrows and rabbit-wiggle my nose for good effect. I should insert a spontaneous I’m-thinking-on-my-feet sounding ‘um’.

I make a law joke about whether sovereignty is an ‘essentially contested concept’. That gets a laugh. Oh man, what have I become??

Ok, what am I doing with my hands? I’ve somehow managed to waffle-entwine them and fold up my forearms like ping-pong table struts.

Sigh. I near the end of my talk. And I’m done!

I field some questions which I vaguely understand. Ok, this is not actually any worse than any other presentation I’ve done. I bet if I channelled all my stress/mental energy productively, I’d be able to julienne vegetables by now. And understand daylight savings.

But first things first. I’d better get home and figure out how to present my ‘Analogical Reasoning and Abortion’ essay in a tutorial tomorrow. It contains approximately 6 Juno and exactly 0 academic references. Yikes.

4 thoughts on “The Thought Process of Giving a Presentation

  1. After reading this entry I really doubt my decision to study law in England. I’m a bad public speaker because I’m always too concerned what others will think about me.
    Hope it went well for you 🙂


    • Please don’t let my melodramatic ramblings deter you! From my experience the law classroom is actually a great place to practise public speaking and build up confidence. And this is coming from someone who until a few years ago would shut down like a prodded clam at the thought of speaking up in class. Wishing you all the best for your studies 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s