This is a detailed account of what goes on in the mind of a newbie conference presenter.
3/3 (the day before the conference): I’m too busy getting ready for the Erasmus+ trip to Luxembourg so I have no time to think or worry about the Big Day. I feel well-prepared for my presentation anyway so there’s no need to panic.
3/3 (the night before the conference): I sleep well. No nightmares. The alarm clock wakes me up at 5:45 a.m.
4/3 (the morning before the conference): It’s a beautiful, warm day – ‘perfect’ for an indoor event. Haha. I feel surprisingly calm. On the bus to Brno, I order my first cup of coffee and I watch a couple of episodes of the Big Bang Theory. It’s enormously relaxing.
8:30: I’ve reached the IH Brno language school. The place is already filling up with attendees. I’m still relatively calm since everything looks as usual; Dave is welcoming the comers and the exhibition stands are ready. However, Dave tells me to go upstairs to the staff room to pick up my badge (this is a small deviation from the pattern I’m used to as I normally pick up my stuff at the registration desk).
8:45: My presentation starts after lunch (at 12:45) so I have plenty of time to get ready for my talk – by watching other people’s talks. I’m meeting Sandy Millin. She’s as energetic as always despite the fact she only slept for 3 hours.
10:15: I’m watching Sandy Millin’s presentation on blogging. Although I’m familiar with most of the stuff she talks about, it’s very useful to have it all summarised this way. Oh, and she mentions my blog and my name a few times throughout the talk. I would normally feel awkward or embarrassed in such a situation but I’m coping with all the attention very well. Hmm.
11:15: When Sandy finishes, she helps me get my PowerPoint ready. She suggests downloading the presentation as hers didn’t work properly.
11:20: I’m in the restroom when a lady suddenly asks me if I’m THE Hana who’s going to present. More attention. OK.
11:30: Before lunch, I decide to go for a walk with some friends. It’s sunny and warm outside and the centre of Brno is just amazing. Old memories popping up.
12:00: Delicious lunch at Jedna Báseň. I’m not really hungry, though. That’s suspicious because I’m always hungry.
12:35: The room where I’m going to present is filling up with people. OMG. More and more are coming. There are 23 seats at the moment but Dave needs to bring some extra chairs. That’s not enough, though. Some people are willing to sit on the floor!
12:44: I look out of the window and I breathe in and out a couple of times. I watch the passers-by and say to myself: Look. It’s not about you. Something’s going to happen THROUGH you. That helps. My hands are not shaking.
12:45: I should be starting already but more people are squeezing in. I close the door to indicate I’m about to kick off.
12:46: I introduce myself while sitting on the chair. It somehow feels appropriate. I ask the audience a few questions to break the ice.
12:48: I introduce the first activity. It seems people are a bit tired after lunch and they are not ready to jump up and mingle. Plus there are too many people in the room and it gets really loud and chaotic when they start mingling and talking. So I stop the activity earlier than I planned and I talk about its benefits and potential pitfalls. At this point, people start taking notes and nodding in agreement. They also ask questions. That’s good.
13:15: I’m halfway through my PowerPoint. Great. My timing works. I calm down and I start enjoying the talk. I’m not using my hand-written notes anymore.
13:45: The time’s up and there’s one more activity to share. I conveniently called it a bonus activity in case I finish too early. But the audience is very supportive. They want me to share the last one too. Then it’s over. Applause. People come to me and say: It was great! Somebody adds: ‘This is what a workshop should look like’.
14:50: I blend in with the attendees and become a member of the audience again to watch the last workshop of the day. I’m happy and grateful for the opportunity.