18 August 2004

Meisi's BEJC Self evaluation

Self evaluation – Talk to BEJC, 12 Aug, 2004

I was late, even though I remembered the importance of punctuality to speakers (or guides, host etc). In fact, I ought to have arrived early. Having arrived on the dot, I ran into the problems of loading my presentation on the computer and all the last-minute fluster that were supposed to be avoided.

I realized the problem when we reached and the computer could not be connected to the screen, nor the net; luckily November brought along her laptop. Then, I had to borrow the computer in Joelle’s lab to upload the latest copy of my presentation online, because I did not manage to replace the original file in my CD on time. This is a mistake, I should not attempt to make changes last minute. It’s a good thing Joelle was so helpful, and Yueting suggested that she presented before me, to give me time to load my file.

Siva’s feedback on the talk taught me more things about giving formal talks, which I’ve never done before, apart from the presentations which we conduct during lessons. I hope I’ll pick up these advice soon.

Pre-talk preparation
I did not find out that this talk was for the Biodiversity and Ecology Journal Club, and about the crowd who will be attending. Initially, I had thought that there was going to be more young faces who are interested to participate in such overseas work, and who wish to find out more from the talk; little did I expect to see more post-grad students, Dr Benito Tan and working adults. This caught me off-guard but I’m glad I managed to compose myself in time for my presentation. I would say that I was ill-prepared with regards to the background work for the talk.

All three presentations were quite interesting, and managed to grasp the attention of the audience, except that it was a challenge for us to keep to the given timing. I am wondering whether I should rehearse exactly what I should say and time myself before I give a talk. I seldom do this as I am usually able to adhere to the time given to me, so I am not sure whether all speakers rehearse their presentations prior to the talk. I am glad I managed to keep my presentation short, however, the Question & Answer session was prolonged.

The audience was very engaging, despite us dragging the time on, they were friendly and did not show their impatience outwardly, this was nice for us first-timers. However, I cannot expect to get such nice treatment all the time, hence it’s important that I learn from this lesson, fast.

During Q&A, the audience expressed their interest in the various projects by asking many questions. I realised that, in order to control the timing well, we have to gauge the length of the answer which we should give to the question, and not to digress too much. Humour and slight digression may help in lightening the mood of the talk and promote further exchanges between speaker and audience.

End of talk
On many occasions we have apologised for having kept the audience waiting, for the glitches and delay during the talk. Putting myself in the audience’s shoes, I can imagine myself thinking, this is one of the few badly-coordinated talks I’ve attended. It is a sobering thought and I’ve started to understand the difference between a smooth-running presentation as compared to the short presentations which I used to do during lessons, it lies in the amount of effort put into the before-and-after of the talk itself.

This was a good and fast-track learning experience for us, It has left a deep impression and glad I experience it, although it was rather scary, haha…

As taken from the word document sent by Meisi
Posting on behalf of Meisi as she is momentarily unable to access blogger

13 August 2004

12th Aug 2004 BEJC Presentation Evaluations

Thanks for the evaluation!
No self-bashing, take this as a good learning experience.
It was a very important lesson for me as well! =)

Computer System
Just found out from my friend that the cable that we plug into the laptop is the same one that should be connected to the CPU. The CPU itself is self sufficient without the monitor. Of course I never knew that the same cable connects to both. I always used a laptop or had someone else do the connecting for me!

Time Management
Guess it was a balance between keeping to the time or allowing the flow of questions. I chose the latter cos people were actually genuinely interested in the presentations!
Also, I think the main reason why it ended at 9 pm was because of the poor transition between speakers (should have pre-loaded all presentations on desktop) and we started almost 20 mins late.

We should all be there at least 10-15 mins before the presentation to load our slides onto the desktop.

Yueat Tin was actually early but didn't know that she could knock on the glass door to get Ms Tan to open the conference room door from inside. I've called Ms Tan in the afternoon to tell her we were coming in at 6.45 pm but I did not disseminate this info, so that was my fault! And I only arrived at 6.50 pm & was limited by my lack of computer knowledge...

Anyway, for any future late events at DBS conference room, please call Ms Tan to inform her, she normally stays till 8 pm so she can open the meeting room door for you.

Upon reflection, the "host" should have ensured all the speakers arrive on time and load all their slides before the crowd arrives. So that is something I've to note as well.

Overall, it was a very good sharing experience I must say! Very insightful & many beautiful pictures too!


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12 August 2004

Evaluations of BEJC presentation on 12 Aug 2004

The presentation of our holiday expeditions experience tonight was considered "amateurish" at best from feedback by some of the handful of audiences at the Biodiversity and Ecology Journal Club (BEJC). Personally it was dissapointing due to poor management on all front, mainly (and somewhat unknowingly) by me. Thus I have decided to write an evaluation.

Overall and Personal Evaluation

1) Miscommunication and lack of communications
I was "shot" without even seeing the arrow coming. Due to my inattention, I did not realise that I was actually coordinating the whole event and that the 3 other persons involved (1 chairperson and 2 other speakers) did not know head or tails of what was happening. Because of my blatant assumptions, the rest did not even know what the talk was about, what their role is, who is to bring the laptop or whether there is even a laptop or not at the conference room. We all assumed there was a laptop and in the end, because I happened to save my presentation in my computer and brought it, thus "saved" the day.

2) Poor time management
There are many instances of poor time management, simply from procrastination or, again, blatant assumptions.

a) Sent out the abstracts of the presentation too late and the email was only sent out to the mailing lists and updated on the website 2 days before the talk. This is insufficient time for any sort of publicity or for people to change their plans.

b) Assumed that I was the last speaker in the line-up so I was late for the presentation by 5-10 minutes. Did not doublecheck the venue and wasted time running between two places. Another speaker was also late. Presenters should be 15 minutes early regardless for preparation in advance. Audiences was kept waiting.

c) Did not prepare in advance for my own presentation and only finished the slides 5 minutes prior to leaving for the presentation thus resulting in my late arrival. This also led to an ill prepared presentation.

3) Lack of preparation
a) Computer was not prepared in advance and had to wait for mine to set up upon my late arrival. The first speaker had to postpone to second place due to lack of internet connection and had to go download her presentation from the internet again minutes before her presentation. None of the others knew anything about computers except me. I managed to debug some problems I faced during my previous presentation in Thailand but still met more and different problems this time.

b) Due to the lack of preparation time, I was careless under pressure and forgot to plug my laptop to a powerpoint - a mistake I would not commonly make in normal situations. The laptop died half way during my presentation which was the last. This resulted in a big delay of about 10minutes which lost the attention of many of my audiences.

4) Presentation skills
As the last speaker, I should try to capture my audience's waning attention. Although the presentation was supposed to be from 7pm - 8pm, it ended at 9pm instead. I had to entertain the audience during the wait and resulted in much repetition of myself and sometimes I lost the train of thoughts. I felt I was too casual and in my attempt to be humourous, I used too many jokes about what my family (which I used to represent the layman's opinion) thought of my work and my opinion on it. I should probably have been more ambiguous about the source to be more formal yet humourous.

a) Question and Answer
Q&A was supposed to be for 5minutes but lasted much longer for the rest. Mine was superbly short and there were no questions probably due to the fact that everybody was so tired and lost interest. Also, I did not handle the Q&A well. I was distracted by somebody raising their hands while I was explaining the first questions. I interrupted myself and decided to continue on my first answer again. This was very disruptive and ill presented.

b) Presentation Topic
There was no focus in my presentation. I did not think to modify my presentation after submitting my title and abstract. I was limiting myself to the initial, spur of the moment title and abstract. I was also not sure what to write for the abstract and copied the other two speakers' style. This put me at a disadvantage as my trip was very much different from them. Their trip had only a single purpose while mine had very distinct and seperate experiences from the field work itself and the trip as a whole. In my final presentation, I focused too much on my research findings rather than my field work experience which would have made for a better topic in a presentation as this. The lack of focus was probably due to my ill preparation as well.

These are the only points I can think of at this moment. This will definitely be a good list of pointers to remind myself and maybe others so we will not make the same mistakes again. It was rather dissapointing to realise that I have not already know these already as they are truly rudimentary aspects of presentation.

Perhaps, lastly, I must add that, one must not try to juggle too many eggs in one basket or one might just drop the basket and break all the eggs. I believe this may be one of my biggest mistake at this moment.