Yesterday, I had the opportunity to present my dissertation research at Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE) conference at Bournemouth University. Even though it was an amazing experience, I was terrified most of the time. What if I forget my lines? What if people don’t like my research? So many “What if” questions were in my head.
Students had the chance to present any research they have done while studying at BU, but I decided to submit my dissertation research. On the day I applied to the conference, I had only an abstract and a faint idea of what I was going to do in the following months. It was a work in-progress and it still is. I presented initial findings, because I have done only two interviews. However, I got really helpful feedback and tips, which I can use for my dissertation now.
This conference also helped me to overcome my fear of presenting my own work. I usually don’t have stage fright, but showing an unfinished research was making me nervous. But it was a great presentation (once it was over and I was able to breathe again). I realised that this conference is not a competition, but a chance for students to put themselves out in front of an audience. And I’m very glad I did. Also, it’s a preparation for my dissertation conference in May, which is a part of my mark.
I would strongly recommend to students to showcase their work in front of an audience if possible. Doing presentations helps you to overcome your fear of public speaking and improves your communication skills. Also, it’s a very effective way of getting feedback on your work.
Next stop: BCUR
When I applied to SURE conference, I also submitted my topic to the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) that will take place in April in Wales. There will be over 500 students from all over the UK, presenting their studies. Now, that might give me a stage fright. Hopefully, I will have more findings to present on that conference, which is my last chance of getting feedback before submitting my dissertation in May. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy. Networking, public speaking, presenting; these are all normal fears that shouldn’t prevent you from developing your skills. Everyone can overcome those fears, even if you start with baby steps. Connect with people on social media and start a conversation. Go to industry events and meet new people. Share your work with other people and spark a discussion. Step out of your comfort zone and let the magic happen.
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