I keep finding myself standing at the front of rooms full of people lately, doing presentations. It's something that causes me a certain amount of anxiety, which is not surprising, as public speaking is right up there with terrorists, spiders and dentists as something that a lot of people find scary.
Oddly enough, one of the things I was talking about this time was anxiety, specifically library anxiety. Libraries don't make the top 10 most scary things but, rather like spiders, large ones can be daunting.
People tend to deal with anxiety by avoiding the scary thing as much as possible and by trying to appear more confident than they really are, and only admit to being anxious or ask for help as a last resort. (Maybe that's why I spent so much time just outside Bath University library when I was a student?!)
While preparing for this event I discovered that the colleague I was doing the presentation with and I differ significantly in the way we deal with anxiety over this type of thing. I tend to do my panicking earlier on in the process and want to keep on going over the slides and the notes, but I don't get particularly anxious on the day itself. Maybe that's because I'm not a good performer, so I tend to avoid the whole issue of making it into a performance and just read out my notes!
We are going to do a slightly different version of this presentation at a conference next month, and I am trying to wangle it so that I only get a walk on part in that one.