So while this blog is about Dunedin, it is also about me, just a little bit at least. Over a week ago I went to Wellington as a finalist of the Eureka! Symposium. I was selected a few months ago along with 11 other finalists, from both secondary and tertiary institutions across the country. The Eureka! Symposium is the platform for the Sir Paul Callaghan Awards for Young Science Orators, each finalist had to give a twelve minute presentation on their topic, and then there was four minutes of questions from the judges. Sounds simple enough. I wish.
In reality, preparing for the presentation took me around 2 to 3 weeks of work. With three days of intensive preparation of rehearsing, and rehearsing, and rehearsing my presentation to my science mentor and other members of staff with ten minutes to spare. And I still felt under-prepared on the day. Public speaking has never really been something I had felt confident doing, I still would not say that I even enjoy it, but it is one of the most important forms of communication. When I finish university and get a job, I will have to pitch ideas to clients. As much as I may want to just to have these great concepts and ideas in my head, a desire and ability to get them down on paper before I make them something physical and tangible I need to be able to explain them to other people to get anywhere with them.
And so I force myself at every opportunity to do public speaking in whatever form it may be, so I get better at it and, eventually I hope, no longer find it so scary! Eureka! was a perfect opportunity at doing exactly that, and even better to a willing audience who wanted to listen to what I had to say.
I had a wonderful two and a half days in Wellington. I met some really passionate science communicators, along with many people in industry who I would have never felt able to sustain a conversation with, let alone that they would be interested in my opinions on science education and communication. My greatest surprise was just how many people enjoyed my presentation. I thought it was good but I never expected so many people, important people especially, to have actually enjoyed it so much that they wanted to come and speak to me personally to tell me! Kim Hill liked my presentation.
So while I won a Sir Paul Callaghan Merit Award, with Sebastian Hallum Clarke taking the Highly Commended Secondary School Runner Up Award, Lara Sweetapple taking the Highly Commended Undergraduate Runner Up Award and Evan Brenton-Rule taking the Premier Award, I wasn’t even disappointed, because New Zealand’s most well respected broadcaster liked my presentation.