I’m a second year PhD student experiencing a great deal of pressure for meetings and talks when supervisors/other professors are present. I want to find methods for relieving a bit of this tension as the high adrenaline during the meetings now makes me too nervous to actually think straight or so tensed I freeze and don’t contribute anything. Especially when topics related to my own work are discussed, I’m extra tensed as I’m expected to know the answers. When put on the spot I usually don’t. I do want to learn this, as for defending my thesis and during talks at conferences I should be able to think on the spot. Additionally, these meetings drain so much energy without being that useful in this way.
I create this pressure myself and I think the reason for this is twofold:
Performing under pressure and being assertive during talks and meetings are things I find hard and therefore I try to work on this in these meetings. However as the pressure actually prevents me to preform on these points, it causes more frustration, leading to more pressure in the next meeting.
On the other hand, I am very aware of the professors in the room and do not want to come across stupid and I want show what I’m capable of. Some of the (more established) professors can also be quite critical towards students and phd’s and while this can be very useful, sometimes it’s just really derogatory and hurtful, not constructive at all. I think I’m also intimidated by this.
Peers in the same situation do experience this as well but most of them just accept this as it is, I’d really like to do something about it. I discussed it with my supervisor as well, she was very understanding and we agreed that preforming under pressure and being proactive during talks are learning points for me, but that only lead to me wanting to show during the meetings that I’m working on it even more. I think the key probably lies on trusting more my own knowledge and being okay with not understanding and knowing everything, I just don’t know how to achieve this.
Has anyone experienced similar situation and maybe has concrete tips on how to deal with this and relieve some of the pressure? Many thanks!