How It’s Done

When I first got word of my summer internship in Grand Teton, I couldn’t have been more excited. But there was one nagging doubt on my mind. As an Interpretation intern, I understood that I would wear a number of hats. The one role that gave me some worry, however, was having to present programs. In front of large audiences. All by myself. For a tried-and-true introvert such as myself, public speaking has never come easy. In fact, speaking before a large group is one of the last things I would volunteer to do. But as the last few weeks bear out, I’ve not only been presenting programs, I’ve been doing so often and well.<p>Before I could present a program, I had to write one. Except for a few scripted programs to be done time and again, all Ranger programs are carefully researched, written, critiqued, and finally presented, more often than not by the presenters themselves. So it was for my own program. The inspiration for my particular program, called “There’s No Place Like Home: Communities in Grand Teton National Park,” came early in the season, during my pre-season training. As I grew familiar with the park’s many environs, habitats, and “communities,” I couldn’t help but notice the similarities they bore to a house, with certain rooms and residents. In a sudden realization, I found the theme and basic framework for my program: I would present the various communities in the park, but with a twist. After some hurried thought and careful research, I had the script, outline, and props, all ready to go. Now only the daunting task of presenting my program remained.<p>The time to present my program soon arrived. For my part, I had left no stone unturned. A little practice goes a long way, I knew, especially for what I was up against. The night before, I prepared diligently. I went over every aspect of my program, from every mannerism and movement to the pauses and punctuation, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with so much as a single nervous stammer. All this I did until I had the program down pat. It was just this sort of rehearsing that had done the trick for me in the past. As prepared and sure of myself as could be, I took the stage the next day, finding that in fact I had little to fear – the practice had paid off. The words, presentation, and ideas flowed together fluidly, better than I thought possible. In just a few minutes, the program was over; it had been a success. With my first program behind me, the rest of my summer has been smooth sailing.