Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N = Nervous Newbie Naturalist


Shortly after returning to Chicago earlier this month, I received two emails from the area coordinator of the Illinois Master Naturalist program.  The first was an invitation for our Master Naturalist class from last year to reconvene later this month to celebrate our hours of service and catch up on what each of us are doing—this should be a really fun evening!


The second email was asking if I would like to do my first public speaking engagement as an Illinois Master Naturalist at one of the local public libraries – now, that should be a slightly terrifying evening!  :-0


The date and presentation topic have been tentatively approved, so things are now moving on to the library publicizing the event to the general public, and me getting the actual presentation pulled together and rehearsed!

Back in my corporate working days, I was quite used to doing client presentations a dozen or so times per year, so public speaking is not entirely a foreign concept to me.

But it’s a totally new realm of knowledge wearing my brand spanking new naturalist cap!  Visions race through my mind of some retired botanist in the back row peppering me with questions about obscure plants!  And, the “umm, great question!” kind of lame, stupid responses I’ll likely be giving to every single question the audience asks me!

Yes, the palms are sweaty and this newbie is nervous!  Any suggestions or tips from the pros out there? 

My talk will be about “Exploring the Great Chicago Wilderness” – sort of a “staycationer’s” guide to finding great nature spots in the Chicagoland area. 

It should be fun to research and photograph some of the nature preserves I’ve not yet been to, as well as revisit the old favorites too as Spring begins to bloom here in the coming weeks.  If I end up making a total mess out of this presentation, at least I’ll enjoy the “boots on the ground” work of preparing it!   






  1. You won't have to worry as much about your talk, as they will all be dazzled by your photos! If some retired botanist starts heckling you from the back row, suggest instead that HE do the volunteer gig next time! ;-)

  2. I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Audiences are usually very friendly. And maybe a glass of sherry when it's all done? ;)

  3. One thing I might do if someone asked me a question that I didn't know the answer to is, I would say, Great question - and I'm not sure of the answer. If you'd like to come up after the Q&A and give me your e-mail, I'll find out and let you know.

    I'm sure you'll be just fine - and I agree that your photos will tell most of the story for you. (Put a few of Millie in, too, and you'll be a star!)

  4. When I was in Toastmasters, one of the best things I learned was to know that your audience wants you to succeed. No one wants to listen to a boring or nervous presenter, so speak with confidence and enthusiasm. Talk about what you love and your audience will respond accordingly. They have come to hear you because they are already interested in what you offered in your program description. So they are already on your side. Enjoy it.

  5. Exciting and scary but I know you'll do a fabulous job.. your photo's are wonderful love all the comments but I suggest a wee glass before.. Cheers! Susie

  6. That sounds like a talk that will be so helpful to your audience!

  7. Just wow them with some of your photos...they are stunning! (

  8. One of our students commented, "Good job putting in detail!" Visiting from A to Z Challenge at Learning at Cedar Ridge Academy and Cedar Ridge Academy


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