Season’s greetings!

Hello all! With Christmas, New Year, Hanukkah, and the Royal Ent Soc student essay deadline all over for another year, we would like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2020, especially for our 6-legged friends. We have been hard at work writing up assignments and experiments, ready to head back to lectures. We finished our year with a course Christmas party which was the perfect way to unwind after our modules!

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Exciting news! One of our cohort (Amy) ventured to Crewe in December to deliver a talk on pollinators. Below is a beautiful account of her talk: “The Terrifying Freedom of First Time Public Speaking”.

Picture this, you get an e-mail from a friend that studies abroad, someone has got in contact with her to do a talk about pollinators and insects at an open climate change panel. Can you take my place? She says. The first thought here is always “OH GOD NO I CAN’T SPEAK….IN FRONT….OF PEOPLE…..can I? NOPE I can’t”. You frantically message your closest friends:

“IVE JUST BEEN ASKED TO DO A POLLINATOR TALK IN FRONT OF 9 MILLION PEOPLE DO YOU THINK I SHOULD I GO FOR IT? WHAT IF I CAN’T? CAN I? WHAT DO YOU THINK?”

In which the reply is subsequently something along the lines of:

“OF COURSE YOU SHOULD! Firstly, you’re so dramatic, it definitely is not 9 million people you’ll be talking to and secondly, you know your stuff! You love insects!” quickly followed by a lot of “You go girl, you should do this, it’ll be great for you!”

I was in this situation a couple of weeks back, and I decided to accept. There was almost definitely the tossing and turning the night before, the hot sweaty palms on the train to the venue…and the constant reading of my power point making sure I’ve got the right stuff in my head. I was on my way to Crewe to talk on a panel of amazing women from all aspects of life, from the leader of the green party in that area, to an extinction rebellion activist…there was a lot of pressure to do well, not in everyone else’s eyes but in my own. The lead up to the talk was very humbling, I got to talk to all the women I’d be standing alongside, and they put my mind at ease!

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The venue and audience!

“Are you nervous?” – YES IM NERVOUS OH GOD, IM SO NERVOUS – “I’m a little nervous, this is my first talk in front of this many people” – “OH, don’t worry! In science and climate, you have to talk to people, gotta get that ball rolling, this is the right place for you”

The venue was a relaxed yoga centre (No shoes allowed, and I highly recommend where you can to practice without shoes, there’s a lot of freedom and grounding to it! A top tip in my eyes), I was not entirely sure of the amount of people that would be there, but all in total it was between 35-40 people. That was the most I’d ever seen in one place to listen to ME ramble on about insects.

I was fourth in the line up of speakers, and the women before me were phenomenal, all things climate crisis, economic crisis and ways forward, a whole pile of ideas and passion. It was finally my turn. I moved to the front of the room, my power point on display. The worst part is the quiet, and you can start to hear you heart in your ears and suddenly your mind goes blank. If you’re anything like me you’ll want to run at this point, or fake feeling ill. Don’t, take your time to recalibrate, have a good look at your first slide, and take a deep breath. I opened my talk with a bit of background about myself, and a joke. It went something like this:

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“Hello everyone, sorry, I am a bit nervous so I might be a bit shaky, but here goes. A little about myself, I did my undergrad at Salford University doing wildlife and practical conservation. At the end of my degree I decided to go on a birding holiday to Norfolk with friends, but suddenly realised I spent more time peering in to the undergrowth and looking for hidden insects than I was for birds, which lead me to this MSc, and now I look at bugs all day every day!” laughs really help to ease you, I really recommend starting it light hearted, run with it. I spoke about all the pollinators I could, highlighted the importance of looking out for insects in your garden and recording what you find. I spoke about projects I had been involved in that brings communities together to help increase pollinator numbers. Soon, I had been speaking for fifteen minutes. And I got an applaud at the end.

HURRAH. I did it! Was it so terrible? No, it was not. Was it terrifying? To begin with, slightly scary, but that eased. Could I do it again? Almost definitely.

My first public speaking event was a great one, I networked with some amazing women. I took questions and exchanged e-mails with people wanting help in their community. It was a great experience, and very freeing. Anyone that is thinking they can’t speak to the public is wrong, you most definitely can do it and it is a very rewarding experience! Being in science is all about speaking, its all about talking about the problems and the solutions. It’s talking about theories and data, its being excited about research.

So, if you ever get that “dreaded” e-mail, message, phone-call. Remember, they’ve contacted YOU for a reason, someone believes you can get the job done, and my advice would be to take it because every time you do it, it gets easier and it will get a little more exciting and a lot less scary.

Amy, you are definitely braver than me, but now you have good practice for upcoming group presentations!

Now, back to putting the finishing touches on our insect boxes ready to hand in on Thursday, and as always keep up to date with us on Twitter.

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Guthrie’s outstanding insect box for our Diversity and Evolution assignment

Elin