Monday, June 29, 2015

Now Presenting... Presentations!

Today is the day. The reasearch has been done, the PowerPoints have been polished and the speeches have been perfected. Today is the day we present our hotels.

Shanti and I started our morning bright and early, leaving our dorms at 7 AM. We made it to the classroom with enough time to drill through our work, print out our slides and take a deep breath for the hundredth time. When the clock struck 8:30, the room was already dead silent. Everyone’s noses were hidden in their notes as they reviewed and repeated the lines in their head.

Mark cleared his throat loudly, earning the attention of the entire class. Everyone was anxious, their strained voices and expressions reflecting the tense atmosphere. I held my pencil in between my two fingers, swiveling the writing utensil nervously. It was a nervous tick that had not appeared in a while. In the Hercules High School classroom, I was never too worried about presenting. I knew who I was up against and I could walk in front of the class without feeling intimidated. This was different, however. I wasn’t in a high school classroom, I was at Cornell Summer College, and my classmates are top tier Hotelies with wealthy backgrounds. I didn’t think my presentation would be anywhere near their level.

As my mind stormed with thoughts of failure and worry, Mark gave us our first assignment of the day. Everyone’s eyes snapped open as he pointed to his diaphragm, informing us that we had to warm up all our speaking muscles before the presentations started. Then, he told us to repeat after him, and a loud “Ooga” echoed across the room.

Nobody said anything at first. In the midst of our stressing and worrying, out comes Mark with a cave-like remark. “OOGA,” he repeated louder, gesturing his arms in an effort to gain class participation. Slowly but surely, people joined in, one at a time. The whispers grew to a unified chant as everyone directed their energy into creating a powerful OOGA. Mark instructed us to add the second line, and this time, there was no need for building up the energy. Everyone went in and added the “CHAKA.” The chant continued rhythmically, everyone chanting the verses loudly and proudly.

And to accompany our chant, Mark sang Hooked on a Feeling.

The loud chants in the room immediately switched to blusterous laughter. After the laughter and the chanting died down, Mark assured our class that the most embarrassing thing has already happened today, so there is no need to worry about the presentation.

It worked. Of course I was still nervous for my presentation, but I could breathe now. Mark’s demonstration reminded us that this was simply a presentation. It was part of our grade, but there isn’t a need to choke when remembering a line. We watched the presentations go by and everyone took notes. Chan-Law was there early in the day at 10, thanks to this lovely little writer who gave him the wrong time, and stayed until the end. We presented right after lunch, and while I watched my peers deliver the message before me, I thought about how this wasn’t so different from a high school presentation after all. Sure, there were no goofballs interrupting the presentation and everyone in the room knew what they were doing, but it was just a presentation. The same rules apply—be confident and be clear. Finally, it was my turn. Sarah expertly transitioned the clicker to my hand. I took a deep breath and began discussing the current events of Choice Hotels International.

The rest of the class went by in a blur. A few presentations later, Stephen was introduced to the podium and Shanti’s group followed in the blink of an eye. Mark gave everyone a scare after the presentations were finished. Everyone began slumping over their desks and running their hands through their hair as Mark instructed everyone to place their bags in the front of the room. It was certainly an odd setup for the pop quiz we all expected. The only difference was we weren’t taking a quiz, we were taking a picture.
Our lovely class picture.
Everyone lined up nicely, and our cohort couldn’t help but reminisce about the times Don would line us up for a group photo. Our sharp suits, tidy hair and bright smiles were recorded into the camera to commemorate our successful presentations.

It was one good new after another. After rejecting the idea of a pop quiz and taking a picture, Mark added that there would be no office hours, which meant we could go home early! Everyone cheered and marched out of the room fashionably early.

Seeing that we had some extra time, Shanti, Stephen and I met Chan-Law in the Cornell store to pick out our sweaters. Unfortunately, the three of us are all modeled out, so the picture would just have to wait until tomorrow. In addition, the other members believed we would pick up our sweaters tomorrow, so they couldn’t make it on the last-minute notice.

Finally, what was originally planned to be a long day turned out nicely. I spend the rest of my evening studying and blogging, though at a leisurely pace. If anything, today is the day I realized that I should stop worrying about being at the top and instead, focus on creating top notch paperwork. 

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