Gave a talk tonight for a class of folks at UMD on the farm bill. I expected undergrads - and I got 'em, along with some random community members and a few farmers just for good measure who'd been invited by the prof.
Public speaking is an excellent exercise in humility, particularly in front of 18-year-olds. I can ace a conference or professional audience pretty easily - assume a basic baseline knowledge, expand their understanding in a few novel ways, make lots of time for questions, and drop in some novelty insider facts or stories to keep things interesting.
That sort of works for undergrads, minus the baseline knowledge and plus their propensity to fall asleep. Which a few did. Like I said, humility.
Just to keep me on my toes, the farmer in the room happened to be in disagreement with me on the usefulness of certain farm subsidies and had no compunctions about asking questions along those lines. Another asked me a real stumper about tobacco.
Meanwhile, as I worked through my slides, I thought of a host of ways I could have streamlined, reorganized, and improved the talk. Typical. Just gotta get step better every time in the iterative work of effectively explaining farm policy and mobilizing sleepy undergrads, right?