WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SUBMIT AN ABSTRACT?
I had never spoken at a conference when I saw the call for papers for the inaugural National Tree Officers Conference, but I was working on a tree canopy cover and planning policy at the time, and I thought that this topic would be of real interest to Tree Officers around the country.
I was nervous about the prospects of standing up and speaking in front of such a large group as I’ve not got much experience of public speaking, and the memory of standing in front of my class at school and giving a speech on the destruction of the rain forests has stalked me for years. It needn’t have. For that speech, I hardly prepared and barely practiced. This time, however, I spoke to friends and colleagues, I searched around on the internet for advice, and by 2016, I had gained a lot more life experience than I had at school.
HOW DID YOU PLAN YOUR PRESENTATION?
I prepared a lot for the conference! I made sure that my presentation followed a good structure, that I focussed on the key headlines, and that I practiced talking about the slides. By splitting my presentations into sections with sub headings and pictures, rather than writing a script, I immediately knew what I wanted to say when I saw each slide. Preparing like this meant that I did not feel as nervous as I might have done otherwise. The adrenalin was still there but as soon as I got up and started speaking, the preparation took over and drowned out the butterflies and my pounding heartbeat.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCE?
If I can stand up and speak in front of a room packed with people then I genuinely think anyone can do so with enough preparation. If I get to do it again, I will definitely dedicate time to practice before, and I will also try to be aware of how much information I’m trying to convey in the time available and so avoid cramming things in.
WHAT POSITIVE IMPACT DID IT HAVE ON YOU?
I am really pleased that I took on the challenge of presenting at last year’s conference. Not only did it help rid me of the presenting demons from my past and give my confidence a boost, but it was also really great to share my thinking about tree canopy cover planning policy, which I genuinely feel is a really important topic, with the industry and my peers.