Pssst, you there. Yes, you. Thanks for travelling to my corner of the internet, I hope it's cozy enough and that you enjoy your stay :)
I had to do this presentation for my english course and we presented it just yesterday. The requirements were to choose a controversial topic, and I guess to get a point across. You could either choose your topic from the list or think of one of your own. Obviously everyone kind of just lunged at the teacher's desk to get to choose first, and I...I knew my assignment partner and I were going to end up with scraps if we tried for one topic of the list.
I suggested something along the lines of "imaginative stories matter in real life".
Awkwardly worded, granted, but I had been reading Diana Wynne Jones Reflections on the Magic of Writing and all this fascinating stuff, these ideas, were lurking in my mind and I grabbed the occasion to speak about it. To think about it more. We ended up using J.K Rowling's commencement speech for Harvard graduates, psychologist Paul Harris' studies results on children's imagination, as well as Neil Gaiman's nice quote paraphrasing G.K Chesterton :
"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
't was all a bit glorious. We had to simplify things a lot, because we only had 5min each to talk, and that's counting the introduction and the conclusion. But even then it was probably the most fun I'll ever have working on an assignment.
I'm utterly terrified by oral evaluation. Let's just say I don't do eye contact on the best of days. I'm a happy introvert, but presentations are just as okay to me as skydiving is to fishes. Not my element.
My mind blanked out again when the teacher called us to the whiteboard. I knew my speech by heart barely two minutes before, so it still irks me a little. All the same, I peeked at my notes, said it all, made a point to speak up, to articulate, and to stare passionately at the wall rather than at my shoes while my confidence was sinking. I was a jittery pile of nerves by the time we reached our chairs, but I did it, and one girl, one, told us she loved our topic. That's more than I was asking for.
Through it all, my assignment partner was some kind of angel. She smiled at me the whole time we worked on the thing, never even a tiny bit forced, she was patient, she never got annoyed with my awkwardness, she praised me and gave me advice and helped me work on my confidence while I was rehearsing my speech. The poor girl caught my nerves in the end, a little bit, I think. She admitted she was more nervous for me than for herself, because she knew going there was painful for me. I owe this girl some serious chocolate.
She said I made progress and that she was proud of me, and that I could be proud of myself too. In the end it really was all her doing, because her trust boosted me.
Our speech was about imagination helping to solve problems in real-life. It had Diana Wynne Jones, and Neil Gaiman, and J.K Rowling, for god's sake. I wouldn't be surprised if we actually worked a spell by accident. What were the chances of this particular assignment helping me make progress with my real-life problems, anyway ?