I didn’t know what to expect. I had been to conferences before, seen many presentations, but never had to give one of my own. I thought, why not, I can do this. I got off the plane in Austin on Monday night and took the bus to the hotel. I had just missed the welcome social hour so I decided to relax before two full days of conference proceedings.
I got up early Tuesday morning to practice my presentation, although I wasn’t supposed to present until the following day. I got ready for the day and attended various half hour presentations about best Management Practices (BMP) Case Studies, Green Infrastructure, and Advanced Research Topics. Over a hundred vendors were gathered in one room promoting their products and answering questions. Tuesday night ended with a gala for all the conference exhibitors, speakers, and attendees. I met various engineers, managers, and product specialists.
Wednesday morning started early, like Tuesday, with me practicing my presentation before my 10:00 AM time slot. I got to my conference room early so I could set up and just as I fumbled through some minor technical difficulties, attendees started filling the room. Ten… twenty… fifty – I could not keep up with the headcount – all I knew was it was a full house. The moderator introduced me by reading my biography and as I stood up, I took a deep breath and started presenting. I knew what I wanted to say. I knew what slide was next. It was just like I had practiced. I had 30 minutes to present; but finished in 20 – a little fast, but I nailed the important discussion points.
I wanted to emphasize the intensity of the storm that caused the erosion at the airport. I wanted to emphasize the magnitude of the erosion along with the length and steepness of the eroded slope. And finally, I wanted to emphasize the various stormwater BMPs that were used in the design of the slope stabilization to prevent future failures along with the short amount of time available to do the design. I explained the various detention ponds and the closed drainage system that we designed to convey the stormwater from the top of the hill to the bottom. I showed details of the detention ponds and swales along with the different types of stabilization we used on the steep slopes.
It was now time for questions. What were they going to ask and would I be able to answer them? Three questions were asked and confidently I was able to answer them. I knew why we did what we did and what the design controls were and could therefore speak confidently about why we came up with the design we did.
And then it set in… it was over and I nailed it. Breathing resumed. It felt good to be done and to feel good about my presentation.
*This post was reviewed and updated in 2020.