On Thursday, 30th March, I participated in the Present Around the World event hosted by IET at the University of Gloucestershire. The competition saw eight young people conduct ten minute long presentations on a topic of their choosing to an audience of their peers and three judges.
I chose to do my presentation on virtual reality heads-up-displays, and some of the issues encountered by developers surrounding their implementation and design. Within it, I discussed how a number of games have begun integrating HUD elements into the game environment rather than a “traditional” 2D HUD. I also expressed my interest in exploring the field myself with a game that would swap between “traditional” 2D HUDs and an integrated HUD depending on context.
Although I ultimately did not place in the competition, I am immensely proud that I presented at all. I have struggled with public speaking in the past, to the point where I found it incredibly nerve-wracking to participate in team presentations for module evaluations, but decided that I would never overcome that by ignoring the issue entirely. I threw myself in at the deep end with this presentation, but it was definitely a very valuable experience.
From it, I have learnt that I need to work on my stage presence further. I did avoid hiding behind the computer screen, and placed myself at the center of the stage where the entire audience could see me. However, I need to use more of the space available – as the first and second place speakers did – and make direct eye contact with the audience rather than rely on looking at the screen quite so much.
There were also significant improvements from my experience with team presentations. I projected my voice so that the audience could hear me, I did not have to take any lengthy pauses to gather myself when my nerves got the better of me, and I did not stutter. Instead, I concentrated on expanding on the information presented on my slides, as I had consciously avoided writing out absolutely everything I had planned on saying.
I will definitely be seeking further opportunities to present on such a scale, though I am just as nervous about it! However, I really want to improve with this skill, and it is unlikely to get any better if I don’t embrace every chance that I get.