Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Year of Darwin 9/9/2014: Darwin's forte? Not public speaking

 Charles Darwin

"When I was Secretary to the Geolog. Soc, I had to read aloud to Meeting M.S. papers; but I always read them over carefully first; yet I was so nervous at first, I somehow could see nothing all around be, but the paper, & I felt as if my body was gone, & only my head left"  Charles Darwin, Letter to son Willy, February 1857

Gave my first talk to a huge lecture hall at the Society of Conservation Biology meeting at Colorado State University in the mid-1990's. I was nervous but it was manageable. There were hundreds of chairs and only a handful of observers. Last talk on the last day. Presented patterns of extinction/colonization in Amazonian fragmented landscapes (that paper was cited ~ 200 times). Next talk was at an AOU meeting. I think it was in Cinncinatti. It was a packed room. Seriously. I was giving a talk on feather growth patterns in the same fragmented landscape and there people standing along the sides of the room. I was so nervous that my knees knocked and I was shaking so bad the laser pointer was making ridiculous circles on the screen. That paper has been cited <30 times. Go figure. 

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